Everyone loves a good story and when it is about a festival it’s even better, isn’t it? So here they are, the stories of Raksha Bandhan from history and mythology to Rajputana, so you can tell your kids about why we celebrate this festival.
Raksha Bandhan is a popular Hindu festival celebrated across the country. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Shravana (Shravan Poornima), usually falls in August.
Rajasthan / Rajputana
In good old days when a warrior went to battle field, the women of the house use to put a tilak (vermilion mark) on the forehead, do an aarti (lighted oil candle) and tie a silk thread on the wrist of their husbands, brothers, sons, uncles and father. It was believed that this would bring back their dear ones alive and victorious.
There is also a custom of tying Ram Rakhi and Chunda (Lumba) Rakhi on Sravan Poornima. Ram Rakhi is made of red slik thread with yellow printed piece of cloth tied to it as pendent (phunda). It is tied to only deities (gods).
Traditional age old Lumba Rakhi (Chunda Rakhi) custom is particularly common among Rajasthani community, where sisters tie Rakhi on the bangle of the brother’s wife, Bhabhi (sister-in-law). Significance of the Lumba rakhi lies in the fact that wife is regarded as the ‘ardhangini‘ or half of a man’s body. So once brother is married, no ritual gets complete without his wife. By tying Lumba Rakhi, sister wish for a secured married life of his brother. So, the responsibility of a brother protecting and loving his sister is equally shared by his wife.
Keeping in tune with mythology and history, Rakhi is also commonly tied to father-mother, kaka-kaki, mama-mami in Rajasthan. The mother and grandmothers also tie Rakhi to their sons and grandsons in Rajasthan.
There are numerous legends associated with Raksha Bandhan. As per Bhavishya puran, once there was a fierce battle between Demons and Lord Indra. Indra sought the advice of Brihaspati Dev to vanquish the demons. Brihaspati Dev advised Indra to tie a sacred thread powered by Mantras on his wrist on the day of Shravan Purnima. Lord Indra’s wife Queen Sachi also called Indrani, tied the tread on wrist of Dev Brihaspati. The power of the sacred thread called Raksha helped the Gods to attain victory in battle.
Raksha Bandhan is a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna. Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection will become immortal.
Raksha Bandhan finds a mention in epic Mahabharata also. While killing Shishupal, Lord Krishna finger got hurt, Queen Draupadi tied a strip of her saree on the finger of Lord Krishna. During Chaupad event, when Draupadi was being stripped before others, Lord Krishna saved her honor intact by throwing a never-ending cloth around her. This incident is set to have happen at Poornima of Shravan month.
During the war at Kurukshetra, Lord Krishna advised Yudhishthir to perform the ceremony to protect himself and the army, it is said that Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas tied rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu.
It is said that, when Alexander-The Great invaded India in 326 BCE, Queen Roxana (his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, king Porus, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
During the days of Emperor Humayun in 1539 AD, it is believed that Rani Karnavati (Queen of Chittor) had sent a Rakhi to emperor Humayun in order to get protection from Bahadur Shah who was invading her kingdom. Despite being of a different religion, he rushed to her help.
What is the concept of Raksha Bandhan?
The concept of Raksha Bandhan is mainly that of protection. Commonly we find people going to the priests in temples and getting a sacred thread tied to their hands. The tying of a Rakhi is not confined to a brother and sister. It could also be tied by a wife to her husband, or by a disciple to the Guru. This bond does not have to be between blood relatives – a girl might adopt a boy as her brother through the tying of a Rakhi – Rakhi Bhai. This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love, but also transcends the boundaries of the family. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbours, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life.
How to celebrate Raksha Bandhan?
On the occasion of this festival sisters generally apply tilak to the forehead of their brothers, tie the sacred thread called Rakhi to the wrist of their brothers and do arati and pray for their good health & long life. This thread, which represents love and sublime sentiments, is called the ‘Raksha Bandhan’ means ‘a bond of protection’. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her. The brothers wear the Rakhi for the entire day, at school or work, as a reminder of their sisters and to mark the festival of Raksha Bandhan.