Today is the auspicious festival of Rakshabandhan. The meaning of ‘Raksha’ is to protect and ‘Bandhan’ means bond. Therefore this festival signifies the bond between a brother and his sister where the brother pledges to take care of his sister(s) in all circumstances.
India, as we know, has a rich heritage and there is a place for every relationship to be honored. This festival upholds the brother - sister relationship.
To commence Rakshabandhan, first a small ceremony is conducted, since Rakshabandhan happens to fall on a Purnima day i.e. a full moon day, a puja takes place. Thereafter the sister ties a rakhi, which is an amulet, to her brother’s wrist and blesses him with long life and happiness. She puts tilak on his forehead and feeds his sweets. In turn the brother blesses the sister and vows to take care of her throughout her life, which amazingly stretches beyond her marriage too. These formalities are then followed by the much looked forward to and customary gift exchange, which is such a highlight of the day!!
This bond of thread is a validation of the infinite love and responsibility that a brother has towards his sister. It is not always that a Rakhi is tied to a sibling or blood-related brother. In our lives, we form many bonds with people who we are not related to. Many times we come across such individuals who take the place of a sister or a brother for us and their conduct and behavior towards us is just like a blood-related siblings. Men call such sisters as their “muh boli behen”. The connection of this thread is so strange that it binds two individuals in a relationship for life that offers mutual love and protection. In fact in North India, girls tie rakhi to men who have no sisters to give them the importance that there are women out there who need their protection and dedication. Women also tie rakhi to the jawans and army men; it is a reflection of gratitude to the men in armed forces for protecting us and our nation selflessly.
In some regions across India, tying a rakhi is not limited to only a brother. Whoever vows to protect and take care of another person is tied a rakhi to. You could tie it to your mother, father, husband, elder sister, grandparents or whoever you think is capable of protecting you and who thinks that they are capable of and want to protect you.
There are many legends associated with the origin of Rakshabandhan. One such legend is that Lord Yama’s sister, Yamuna tied him a rakhi in order to give him immortality, another story is about how Queen Kunti tied a rakhi around Abhimanyu’s wrist to protect him in Kurukshetra. The Bhavishya Purana states how Indra was fighting a battle against some demons and he was losing, his wife Indrani tied a rakhi to him and he won the battle against the demons.
The most known story though is of Rani Karnavati of Chittorgarh and the Mughal Emperor, Humayun. Chittorgarh was threatened by a neighboring kingdom, seeking protection against those forces, Rani Karnavati sent Emperor Humayun a Rakhi seeking his aid and shelter. He came to her rescue and helped defend Chittorgarh. This particular legend also reinforces the inter religious bonds of our country and how the power of relationships transcends faith. Even today many Hindu sisters tie rakhi to their brothers from another faith and vice versa.
This festival has now become secular in its meaning and the best part is that the true essence of protecting and guarding another individual at all costs in upheld very seriously. May the sanctity of this festival be omnipresent forever. Happy Rakshabandhan everyone!!!
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