CHENNAI: Raksha Bandhan or rakhi is a special occasion to celebrate the chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister, 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 the holy month of shravan (Shravan Poornima), a sister ties the holy thread of love on her brother’s wrist to express her love and bonding. 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 two words i.e raksha which means to protect and bandhan which means binding or bonding. 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 and secure. There are many legends associated with this festival out of which few of them like story of queen Karnavati and emperor Humayun have been quite popular among historians.
When Karnavati, 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 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 in Krishna. During the great battle in 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 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 favour. Draupadi just asked for the lord’s holy presence in her life forever. From that moment onwards, Krishna had been with Draupadi like a shadow protecting her from all troubles. When the Kauravas tried to dishonour Draupadi through, she prayed to Krishna continuously and lord took care of her honour and punished the sinners during the battle of Mahabharata. With the passage of time, this festival has acquired different expressions and connotations.
In present milieu, where glamour is ruling people’s heart and mind, there has been a major change observed in man’s attitude and approach towards this festival, as a result of which mutual feelings of love, affection and most importantly piousness has completely disappeared, because of which the current generations are asking questions like — how can one protect somebody just by putting a cotton thread on his wrist? 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, she prays to lord in her heart that her beloved brother becomes liberated from vices of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego and attains true peace and happiness in life. Tying rakhi is just a symbolic gesture. What matters are the good wishes.