Bond of Love
The traditional festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ (knot of protection) has its roots in the epics and Vedas. Rakhi has been celebrated since time immemorial, in ancient Bharat, and even today Raksha Bandhan in north is a celebration of the undying love between a brother and a sister. It is celebrated in the month of Shravan on the first Poornima (full moon night).
Children following are some historical evidences of Raksha Bandhan celebration.
War between Gods and Demons
The most famous legend relates to a war between the Gods and the Demons. The Gods led by Lord Indra were on the verge of defeat. At this point Lord Indra approached his guru Brihaspati and sought his help. Brihaspati advised him to tie a sacred thread powered by mantras on his wrist on Shravan Purnima. On that day, Indra”s wife Sachi tied the thread i.e. rakhi on Indra’s wrist and Gods won the battle. Since then it become a custom in Bharat for women to tie a thread on the wrists of soldiers going for war, with the hope that it will protect them and lead them to victory.
Celebration of Rakhi in
Rakhi popularly known as Rakhi Purnima or Raksha Bandhan is known by different names in different parts of India. The method of celebration also differs in different states of India.
Lord Yama and Yamuna
It has also been said that Lord Yama and his sister Yamuna too celebrated Raksha Bandhan. Yamuna tied a sacred thread on Yama’s wrist and bestowed immortality on him. Since then Yama promised that whoever gets a rakhi tied by his sister and vows to protect her will become immortal.
Ganesh had two sons, Shubh and Labh. On Raksha Bandhan day, 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 and persuaded Ganesh that a daughter will enrich him as well as his sons. Ganesh agreed, and created a daughter named Santoshi Maa by divine flames that emerged from Ganesh”s wives, Riddhi and Siddhi . Thereafter, Shubh and Labh had a sister named Santoshi Maa (Goddess of Satisfaction) whom they loved and protected.
Rani Karnawati and Humayun
Rani Karnawati was the widowed queen of Chittor, who had been attacked by Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat. The queen realised that defending her empire from the invasion was not possible for her and in lieu of protection and help, she sent a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor, Humayun. On receiving the rakhi, the Emperor was overwhelmed and became emotional. He, along with his troops, immediately set out to protect Chittor from the invasion. Humayun, on reaching the fortress, fought with Bahadur Shah and evicted him from the land.Since Rani had died fighting, the empire was handed over to her son, Vikramjeet Singh. Since then, the act of a sister tying a rakhi on the wrist of her brother indicates lifelong protection from him.
Lord Krishna and Draupadi
In order to protect good people, Lord Krishna killed the evil King Shishupal. Krishna was hurt during the war and left with bleeding wrist. Seeing this, Draupadi tore a strip of cloth from her sari and tied it around his wrist to stop the bleeding. Lord Krishna, realising her affection and concern, declared himself bounded by her sisterly love. He promised her to repay this debt whenever she needed. Many years later, when the Pandavas lost Draupadi in the game of dice and Kauravas were disrobing her, Krishna helped her divinely so that they could not disrobe her.
In Mahabharat when Lord Krishna suggested Yudhishthir to perform ceremony of Raksha Bandhan in order to protect his army and himself from war. Kunti, the mother of Pandavas tied rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu and Draupadi tied it to Lord Krishna.
Alexander and Porus
Though in principle ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is an observance between biological siblings of the opposite sex, the legends and history of Bharat are rife in stories where a woman has tied the knot of rakhi to a stranger. In 326 BC when Alexander of Macedonia invaded India he was shaken by the fury of king of Bharat, named Porus in his first attempt. Upset by this, Alexander’s wife, who had heard of the rakhi festival approached King Porus and tied rakhi on his hand, seeking assurance from him for saving the life of her husband in the battlefield. Porus accepted her as his sister . The next day in the battlefield, Porus came very close to killing Alexander, but he was reminded of the promise he made to Alexander”s wife and desisted from killing his enemy at the cost of getting defeated himself.
King Bali and Lakshmi
According to Bhagvat Puran and Vishnu Puran, Lord Vishnu pleased with the extreme devotion of his disciple, the demon King Bali, promised to guard his kingdom, abandoning his own abode in Vaikunth. Meanwhile, Goddess Lakshmi, wanted her Lord to be back with her in his abode. She went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman and sought refuge, telling him that her husband had gone away on some long errand. Then, on Shravan Purnima she tied a thread on King Bali”s wrist wishing for his wellbeing. In return he granted her one boon and the Goddess asked him to return her husband. The King asked Lord Vishnu to return with his wife. But having pledged his entire life to protect Bali, the Lord was unable to do so. To resolve his dilemma, it was decided that Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma will guard Bali for four months each in a year.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, invoked Raksha Bandhan as a concept to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims during India”s colonial era.
Being a Bharatiya we should be thankful to our enriched culture which gives us a lot of occasions to celebrate relationships.