The festival of brother sister love is widely celebrated in India as well as abroad, which truly signifies the emotions and love between the siblings. This is the day when sisters tie a thread (rakhi) on the wrist of brothers, expressing the love for them and pray for their well-being. Brothers, on their part, promise to protect them from all evils. In Sanskrit, Raksha Bhandan means “the tie of protection“.
But how did this festival originate and became a huge celebration worldwide? Let’s explore few of them.
Yama and Yamuna: Yama, the lord of death, was blessed with eternity as his sister Yamuna tied up a rakhi thread on his wrist. Since that time the festival of Raksha Bandhan is associated with tying of Rakhi thread.
The Tale of Lord Bali and Goddess Lakshmi: Once King Bali approached to the Lord Vishnu to get his kingdom safeguarded from its enemies. Lord Vishnu decided to help his great devotee. Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu, did not want her lord to leave the home and reached to the Bali’s mansion in disguise of Brahmin woman to seek shelter. On the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima Laxmi ji while tying a revered thread on Bali’s wrist told her purpose for being there. Touched by the tender feelings of Lakshmi ji for her family, Kind Bali requested Lord Vishnu to not leave his abode. Therefore the Rakhi festival is also called ‘Baleva’ that means the devotion of King Bali to Lord Vishnu.
Indra and Sachi: Indra, the king of devtas, had lost his kingdom to the asura Vritra. Indra’s wife Sachi than tied a thread around her husband’s wrist to ensure his victory in the upcoming war between him and Vrita. This was done at the behest of guru Brihaspati.
Draupadi and Krishna: Lord Krishna was left with a bleeding finger, after Shishupal’s death. To stop the flow of blood, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist. Touched by her concern, Krishna declared to protect her and promised to repay the debt manifold.
Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun: During the medieval era, Rajputs were fighting Muslim invasions. When Rani Karnawati the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could in no way defend the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor touched by the gesture started off with his troops without wasting any time.
Alexander the Great’ wife and King Puru: During 300 B.C. when Alexander invaded India; he was afraid by the fury of the Indian king Puru in his first attempt. Upset by this, Alexander’s wife, who had heard of the Rakhi festival, approached King Puru. King Puru accepted her as his sister and when the opportunity came during the war, he refrained from Alexander.
Rabindranath Tagore’s call to nation: During the partition of Bengal in 1905, Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet used the occasion of the Raksha Bandhan as a community festival and gave a call to tie a rakhi amongst all Hindus and Muslims so as to maintain peace and harmony between them and spread the nationalist spirit among people from different ethnic backgrounds.
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