‘Raksha Bandhan’ or ‘Rakhi’ is a special occasion to celebrate the chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister which is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. This bond of love is so strong that it can’t be broken easily. On the auspicious day of full moon in holy month of shravan (Shravan Poornima), a sister ties holy thread of love on her brother’s wrist to express her love and bonding. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’ which means ‘a bond of protection’.
Although this festival of siblings is mainly prevalent among Hindus, but due to its uniqueness, people of all religions in India celebrate it with much enthusiasm and gusto. ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is not just a festival, but a symbol of our traditions and culture that keeps us connected with our family sacraments . The original spirit of this festival lies in 2 words i.e ‘Raksha’ which means to protect & ‘Bandhan’ which means binding or bonding. So, in simple words, to bind oneself for protecting someone is “Raksha Bandhan’. On this day the sister ties silken thread of rakhi on her beloved brother’s wrist, thereby metaphorically strengthening the bond of love that exists in their relation and in return, the brothers also make a promise to the sisters to protect them lifelong from all kind of problems. It’s a fact that from the time we are born till the time we die, we are constantly surrounded by some kind of fear or insecurities, and where there is a feeling of fear within, the spirit of protection automatically becomes prime. It is this spirit of protection with which a sister ties Rakhi to her brother while praying to almighty to keep her brother always safe & secure.
There are many legends associated with this festival out of which few of them like story of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun have been quite popular among historians. When Rani Karnawati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could in no way defend her kingdom from the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun and in return, he honoured this affectionate thread (rakhi) and at once sent his troops for her help. Another mythological reference is connected with Lord Krishna and Draupadi. According to the legend, krishna loved draupadi so much, that he called her ‘sakhi’. Draupadi too had a lot of faith on Krishna. During the great battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna threw a celestial weapon at Shishupala, in order to punish him for numerous sins. However during the act of hurling the Sudharshan Charka from his index finger, he hurt himself. On seeing blood drops, draupadi immediately rushed to protect her lord and she tore off a piece from her sari and wrapped it around his finger, stopping the bleeding. Krishna was touched by her gesture of devotion and pure love and he asked her what would she like in return of this favor. Draupadi, like a true sister, just asked for the Lord’s holy presence in her life forever. From that moment onwards, Krishna has been with draupadi like a shadow protecting her from every small and big trouble. When the Kauravas tried to dishonor Draupadi through “Cheer Haran” (removing her sari), she prayed to Krishna continuously and lord took care of her honor and punished the sinners during the battle of Mahabharata.
With the passage of time, this festival has acquired different expressions and connotations. In present times/milieu where glamour is ruling people’s heart and mind, there has been a major change observed in man’s attitude & approach towards this festival, as a result of which mutual feelings of love,affection & most importantly piousness has completely disappeared, because of which the current generations are asking questions like – How can one protect somebody just by getting a smooth cotton thread on his wrist which is easily breakable ? Do such rituals or practices seem practical in today’s modern world? Those who are posing these questions must first of all understand that ‘Rakhi’ is merely not a cotton thread but a sacred obligation to protect modesty and also explains the importance of restraint in life. While tying Rakhi on her brother’s hand, a sister does not just seek protection for herself only, No! she keeps much higher spirit of seeking protection for entire female community. Along with this, she also prays to Lord in her heart that her beloved brother becomes liberated from vices of lust,anger,greed,attachment & ego and attains true peace & happiness in life. Thus, it is important for those so called modern & practical people to realize that tying Rakhi is just a symbolic gesture , what’s important in this ritual is feelings of good wishes & prayers that comes out from a sister’s heart and which further acts like a shield of protection for her brother. However, one wonders that are only females in need of protection? Wouldn’t God – our Beloved Supreme Parent, Teacher be a more effective and a loyal Protector? We often forget our true identity of being an infinitesimal point of the divine energy i.e a soul. We get entangled in the web or bondages of 5 vices (lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego) which overpowers us and influence us to perform negative actions, which in turn causes sorrow & misery. So, when Almighty applies the “tilak” of soul-consciousness on our forehead, we become elevated & divine and start seeing each other as souls and not body. This unlimited vision of brotherhood breaks all barriers of caste, creed, gender, religion and superstitions ,thereby purifying our consciousness & making our actions positive to receive HIS blessings and good wishes and stay under the canopy of his protection for eternity. So, let’s bind ourselves in this ‘Spiritual Bond’ that would liberate us from all bondages & help us to regain our lost sovereignty.