Raksha Bandhan is the festival meant to tighten the knot of relation between a brother and a sister. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Shravan (month according to Hindi calendar) which comes in the month of August. Raksha Bandhan is also known as 'Rakhi'. In this festival, sisters tie an auspicious thread on the wrist of their brothers. Raksha Bandhan means 'Bond of Protection'. This festival is celebrated to protect brothers from evil things and sisters also pray to God for the well-being and long life of their brothers. On this day, girls wear new clothes and don't eat anything before tying the rakhi on their brothers' wrist. They put red vermillion (tika) on their brothers' forehead, give them sweets to eat and tie the rakhi on their wrist. Brothers, on the other hand, give gifts on Rakhi as the token of love and blessings to their sisters. This festival sweetens the relation of brother and sister.
History of Rakhi
There are many stories related with Raksha Bandhan. One story comes from the epic Mahabharata, in which Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas tied a strip of her sari around Lord Krishna's wrist to stop it from bleeding which was wounded in the battlefield. Seeing this, Lord Krishna was deeply touched and he confirmed Draupadi as his sister. He promised to protect her from all evils and help her anytime when she will be in any problem. Lord Krishna saved her prestige at the time of 'Chir Haran' which happened with her in the court of King Dhritarashtra, where in the gambling Pandavas lost her to the Kauravas. Another story related to this festival is of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun. When the widowed queen Rani Karnavati realized that her land is going to be conquered by the Emperor Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to the Emperor Humayun. He became emotional and came to save the Rani and her kingdom but he was too late.
According to another legend, the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, who, in turn, had taken up the task to guard his kingdom, leaving his own abode in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi who desired to accompany her lord back to her abode, disguised as a woman and seek refuge till her husband came back. During the celebrations of Shravan Purnima, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread to the King. When asked about her identity and her purpose, she revealed the truth. Touched by this, he sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus, the festival came to be known as Baleva, that is Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord. It is said that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters in Shravan Purnima for the thread tying ceremony or the Raksha Bandhan.
On the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, girls and married women put mehndi on their hands. Both, brothers and sisters wear traditional dresses. Raksha Bandhan or the festival of 'Rakhi' also emphasizes on the relations of married women with their natal homes. Today, the practice has taken a more universal and humanitarian form where women and girls tie rakhi to the soldiers, the jailed convicts or other abandoned social sects to make them feel loved and wanted. They also tie 'rakhi' on the Prime Minister's wrist to take the promise of protection. Especially, in northern and western part of India, many girls tie rakhi around the wrists of boys and men who have no sisters and treat them as their 'God-Brothers'. Earlier, rakhi used to be in the form of silk thread and now it comes in every type such as rakhi made of gold, silver and sandalwood. Along with this, for small children rakhi is now available with their favorite cartoons.
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated across the whole country but it is mainly celebrated in North India. It comes in the month of Shravan (month in Hindu calendar) and according to English calendar in the month of August. Raksha Bandhan is for every type of protection and demolisher of all evils. Today, this festival has become very essential part of the Indian culture. It binds the family with the bond of love. The values, sentiments and emotions attached to the rituals of this festival, is spreading the lesson to live with harmony and peace.
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is one of the unique festivals of India. The celebration reasserts the strong ties that bond the hearts of brothers and sisters.
Image Credit: http://www.indif.com/nri/festivals/images/samplerakhis.jpg
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