Kids’ Org: Put the bond in practice
Intro: Despite the fact that Raksha Bandhan is a festival where the men folk take a pledge to protect their sisters but yet crime against women is increasing. We hope that the bond of love which this festival creates will some day give sense to those who commit such crimes.
Raksha Bandhan also known as Rakhi Purnima is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters.The festival is also used to celebrate any brother-sister like relationship between men and women who are relatives or biologically unrelated. On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on their brother's wrists. This symbolises the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival falls on the full moon day (Shravan Poornima) of the Shravan month of the Hindu calendar. Raksha Bandhan literally means ‘the tie or knot of protection’. The festival has many myths and historic legends linked to it which can be traced back to the mythological Pauranic times.
Some of the stories related to the festival are as follows:
The legend refers to a war between the gods and the demons. The demon King Brutra was advancing and the gods lead by Lord Indra, were on verge of defeat. The king of gods, Indra approached Guru Brihaspati to find a solution to the situation. Brihaspati asked Indra to tie a sacred thread on his wrist, powered by the sacred mantras on the Shravan Purnima. Lord Indra's Queen Sachi also called Indrani, empowered the thread and tied it on to his hand on the decided day. The power of the sacred thread called raksha helped the gods to victory.
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
According to another legend Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own abode in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi wished to be with her Lord back in her abode. She went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman to seek refuge till her husband came back. During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, Lakshmiji tied the sacred thread to the King. Upon being asked she revealed who she was and why she was there. The king was touched by Lakshmi’s devotion towards her family and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord.
In the Epics
According to one version on a Sankranti day, Krishna managed to cut his little finger while cutting sugarcane. Rukmini, his queen immediately sent her help to get a bandage cloth while Sathyabama, his other consort rushed to bring some cloth herself.
Draupadi who was watching all of this rather simply tore off a part of her sari and bandaged his finger.
In return for this deed, Krishna promised to protect her in time of distress.
The word he is said to have uttered is Akshyam which was a boon. It means 'May it be unending'.
And that was how Draupadi's sari became endless and saved her embarrassment on the day she was disrobed in king Dhritarashtra's court.
Ganesh had two sons, Shubh and Labh. On Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh's sister visited and tied a Rakhi on Ganesh's wrist. The two boys become frustrated that they have no sister to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with. They asked their father Ganesh for a sister, but to no avail. Finally, saint Narada appeared who persuaded Ganesh that a daughter will enrich him as well as his sons. Ganesh agreed, and created a daughter named Santoshi Ma by divine flames that emerged from Ganesh's wives,Riddhi and Siddhi.Thereafter, Shubh and Labh had a sister named Santoshi Ma (literally “Goddess of Satisfaction”), who was well protected by them.
Yama and the Yamuna
According to another legend, Yama, the God of Death had not visited his sister Yamuna for 12 years. Yamuna, was sad and consulted Ganga.Ganga reminded Yama of his sister, upon which Yama visited her. Yamuna was overjoyed to see her brother, and prepared a bounty of food for Yama. The God Yama was delighted, and asked Yamuna what she wanted for gift. She wished that he, her brother should return and see her again soon. Yama was moved by his sister's love and agreed to see her again.This made river Yamuna immortal.
Alexander the Great and King Porus
According to the legendary narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, a Katoch king, gave full respect to the rakhi. In the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
A popular narrative that is centered around rakhi is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she is not in a position to defend the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. Humayun arrived late, and in the mean time Bahadur Shah conquered the Rani's fortress. Karnavati, along with 13,000 other women in the fortress, carried out jauhar i.e, killing themselves to avoid dishonour while the men threw the gates open and rode out on a suicidal charge against Bahadur Shah's troops. On reaching reached Chittor, Humayun evicted Bahadur Shah from fort and restored the kingdom to Karnavati's son, Vikramjit Singh.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, invoked Raksha Bandhan and rakhi, as concepts to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims during India's colonial era. In 1905, the British empire divided Bengal, a province of British India on the basis of religion. Rabindranath Tagore arranged a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, and urged them to protest against the British empire. He used the idea of Raksha Bandhan to spread the feeling of brotherhood.
While Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in various parts of South Asia, different regions mark the day in different ways.