There’s always a zeal attached to every festival, and its arrival marks the beginning of joyous days and enthusiasm that we all enjoy with full liveliness. It’s that time of the year when every brother sits in front of their sister and promises to protect her.
Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakhi, is a Hindu festival celebrated across India. ‘Raksha’ means to protect, and ‘Bandhan’ means bond. The festival celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters where the brother vows to take care of his sister(s) in every phase of life, in every up and down and to every extreme. Raksha Bandhan draws its significance from a sacred thread – Rakhi that a sister ties on her brother’s wrist, reminding him that he is her pillar of support.
Origin and significance
The origin and power of Rakhi can be attributed to the most ancient legend when Goddess Indrani tied the sacred thread to Lord Indra, which resulted in his victory over demons. Rakhi is celebrated during Shravana Purnima, i.e., the full moon day during Shravana month in the Hindu lunar calendar. It is believed that the thread protects the one who wears it, especially during the auspicious time of Shravana Purnima.
In 1905, Curzon partitioned Bengal on communal lines. Rabindranath Tagore introduced the custom of Raksha Bandhan among the Hindus and Muslims of Bengal to nurture an atmosphere of universal brotherhood. This custom became so popular that it spread to every corner of Bengal. It took a very different connotation in Bengal and became a symbol for bonding unity between Hindus and Muslims.
Indian history is filled with stories of Hindu queens sending Rakhi(s) to Mughal emperors in their hour of need while the latter honouring the bond of Rakhi in both words and deeds. Raksha Bandhan is a ritual that strengthens the unique and sacred bond of sisters and brothers. When the sister ties rakhi on her brother’s wrist, it shows her love in a unique, indelible bond of affection for a lifetime. As a gesture of gratitude, love and affection, the brother promises to support and protect his sister from all troubles coming her way.
In a modern context, Rakhi represents a bond of protection. If you care to look around, the pandemic highlighted our saviours! From soldiers to security guards, from government officials to social workers, from doctors to house help, the occasion of Raksha Bandhan reinforces the sublimity of these relationships in a very endearing manner!
A typical ceremony to observe on the day of Rakhi involves rituals like performing aarti instilled with prayers for the brother’s long life, followed by putting vermilion (red tika) on his forehead and then rakhi is tied on the right wrist of brother. After the thread ceremony, the brother is treated with sweets and traditional home delicacies, usually prepared by the sister. The brother shows his affection and gratitude by gifting a present, especially bought for the occasion, to his sister.
Rakhi is a decorative festival. It threads everybody back together in a close knot. For all families, the festival is a means of family bonding. Raksha Bandhan promotes the values of friendship, community cooperation, support, and love. And with the changing societal norms, today is not uncommon for sisters to tie rakhi to one another. It’s a joyous occasion celebrated with zeal and one that is open to all who share a loving bond of brotherhood/sisterhood.
In a culturally diverse country like India, Raksha Bandhan reinforces the spirit of fraternity, i.e., universal brotherhood. Busy lifestyles are silenced, and pure relationships that offer love, security and safety are cherished. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Evergreen family wishes you and your loved ones a joyous and fun-loved Raksha Bandhan!