India as a nation has rich and varied heritage. The nation celebrates number of festivals throughout the year. Every relation is commemorated here by a festival and celebration. As Padwa (diwali) is a festival for Husband wife and father daughter, likewise Rakshabandhan embellishes the relationship of brother and a sister. Rakshabandhan is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of August (Marathi month Shravan). It is a day when brothers and sisters reaffirm their relation. The meaning of the festival is self explanatory, as Raksha in Indian parlance means protection and bandhan means a bonding. On this day sister ties a rakhi on her brothers’ wrist and brothers in turn vows to protect their sisters all through their lives. Along with tying of Rakhis, a sister also worships the deities and prays for their brothers’ wellbeing.
India is a spiritual land with rich traditions. All festivals celebrated here have their traces found in the history. Likewise there are a number of mythological stories related to Rakshabandhan. The origin of this festival is rooted in the Hindu mythology. There are explanations of this festival in ancient Hindu texts. The concept of Rakshabandhan has been changing with times. It is said that earlier Rakhi had been a symbol of seeking help or protection from the powerful ones by the weaker ones. This occasion wasn’t just about siblings. In fact in Rajputs ladies used to tie rakhi on the wrists of their consorts, while going on war. They had a belief that their spouse is safe and protected from their enemy’s blow due to the rakhi (thought of as a sacred thread) tied on their wrists. There is also a mention of another mythological story where there was an outbreak of war between Gods and demons on the full moon day of the month of Shravan (English month August). Lord Indra regarded as the king of gods was fretting about the result of war. Then his consort Indrani prepared a sacred thread with her religious powers and tied it around Lord Indra’s wrist. That day the war was won by the deities and Lord Indra was unhurt. However with changing times the concept of rakhi has also changed, nonetheless the concept of protection and promise still continues.
There are many other references of Rakhi and its significance mentioned in the Hindu text. There is a popular story of Lord Krishna and Draupadi (wife of five Pandavas). After Shishupal’s death, Krishna was left with a bleeding finger. One of Krishna’s wives sent her help to get bandage and medicine for him, while his second consort herself went to get something to be tied on his cut. However Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, did not wait for anyone and tore a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s finger to stop the flow of blood. Touched by her concern, Krishna had declared himself bound to her by her love. He vowed to repay the debt many fold. Many years later when Draupadi was about to be shamed by being disrobed in front of the whole court by her evil brother-in-law Duryodhana, she called on Krishna to help her, and he did by divinely elongating her sari so it could not be removed
Irrespective of the stories behind it Raksha bandhan has been celebrated in India for ages now and its significance is not diluted even in the 21st century. May all brothers get a long and prosperous life. Happy Raksha bandhan to all the brothers and sisters across globe from Saee Puranik and family.