The festival of Rakhi

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Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Festival celebrating the love of Brother and Sister

Celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters is the Hindu festival of Rakshabandhan. On a full moon day at the end of the hindi month of Shravana, According to Gregorian calendar, this auspicious day corresponds to the month of July-August. The date of the festival is not fixed. Each year the festival is observed on different dates. 

Sisters tie thread amulets on their brothers’ wrists, praying for their longevity and happiness. Brothers, in turn are bound by the delicate threads to cherish and safeguard their sisters. The fragile threads symbolise a deep abiding relationship — loving, tender, devoted, protective and indulgent.

Significance of Raksha Bandhan

The basic significance of Raksha Bandhan is to strengthen the bond of love between the siblings. In addition to that Raksha Bandhan also signifies a peaceful co-existence of every individual.

Rakhi celebrations

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Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is celebrated with great fervour all over India and the celebrations remain same with little variation here and there that includes tying Rakhi on brother’s wrists, exchanging gifts and gorging on delicious sweets like gulab jamun, rasgulla, barfi, and chocolates.

On the auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan sisters get up early, have a bath and then pray to Lord Ganesha and then perform the aarti of brothers, put tilak and rice on their forehead and tie a Rakhi on his wrist. Following which sweets are exchanged and there is happiness all around. The celebrations continue throughout the day with families reuniting and doing fun activities together.

Siblings who are living away from each other send their wishes through phone or email and Rakhi is sent through the Rakhi cards.

The legend and History of Raksha Bandhan ::

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There are various legends surrounding the festivities of Raksha Bandhan and it also finds a mention in the Mahabharata. Some of the prominent one is the legend of Queen Karnavati and Emperor Humayun.

According to the Indian medieval history, Queen Karnavati of the Rajput Kingdom, Chittor had sent a Rakhi to Humayun the Mughal Emperor of Delhi, Emperor Humayun learned about the significance of Rakhi then accepted her request to protect Queen Karnavati.

 Since then the ritual of tying of a sacred thread Rakhi on the wrist of brothers is celebrated with much fervour all over the country.

The legend of King Bali and Goddess Laxmi is a popular one 

Another legend is of Yama (the God of death) and Yamuna. It is believed that on every Shravan Poornima day Yamuna used to tie a sacred thread on Yama’s wrist. Yama was so moved by the serenity of this custom that he declared that whosoever gets a Rakhi tied on his wrist from his sister and promised her protection will become his responsibility.

HHistorical origin of Rakhi festival ::

The traditional Hindu festival ‘Raksha Bandhan’ (knot of protection) was came into origin about 6000 years back when Aryans created first civilization – The Indus Valley Civilization. With many languages and cultures, the traditional method to Rakhi festival celebration differs from place to place across India. Following are some historical evidences of Raksha Bandhan celebration from the Indian history.

↪Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun

The story of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun is the most significant evidence in the history. During the medieval era, Rajputs were fighting Muslim invasions. Rakhi at that time meant a spiritual binding and protection of sisters was foremost. 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 and King Puru

The oldest reference to the festival of rakhi goes back to 300 B.C. at the time when Alexander invaded India. It is said that the great conqueror, King Alexander of Macedonia was shaken 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.

↪Lord Krishna and Draupathi

In order to protect the good people, Lord Krishna killed the evil King Shishupal. Krishna was hurt during the war and left with bleeding finger. Seeing this, Draupathi had torn a strip of cloth from her sari and tied around his wrist to stop the bleeding. Lord Krishna, realizing her affections and concern about him, declared himself bounded by her sisterly love. He promised her to repay this debt whenever she need in future. Many years later, when the pandavas lost Draupathi in the game of dice and Kauravas were removing her saari, Krishna helped her divinely elongating the saari so that they could not remove it.

↪King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi

The demon king Mahabali was a great devotee of lord Vishnu. Because of his immense devotion, Vishnu has taken the task of protecting bali’s Kingdom leaving his normal place in Vikundam. Goddess lakshmi – the wife of lord Vishnu – has became sad because of this as she wanted lord Vishnu along with her. So she went to Bali and discussed as a Brahmin woman and taken refuge in his palace. On Shravana purnima, she tied Rakhi on King Bali’s wrist. Goddess Lakshmi revealed who she is and why she is there. The king was touched by Her and Lord Vishnu’s good will and affection towards him and his family, Bali requested Lord Vishnu to accompany her to vaikuntam. Due to this festival is also called Baleva as Bali Raja’s devotion to the Lord vishnu.

It is said that since that day it has become a tradition to invite sisters on sravan pournima to tie sacred thread of Rakhi or Raksha bandan.

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