The festival of Raksha Bandhan (रक्षाबंधन)
The festival of Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is dedicated to the love and affection shared between a brother and a sister.
This year Raksha Bandhan is on Wednesday, the August 21, 2013 which falls on the full moon day in the Hindu calendar of
Shravan the most holiest Month, On this day, the sister ties a decorative threads
or rakhi on the wrist of her brother, with this the brother promises to protect his sister from harm. In return, the sister prays for the well-being of her brother.
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is observed by Hindus and Sikhs in all over India. Hindus in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, konkan, Parts of Orissa change their sacred threads (Janayu, called as
Poonal in Tamil). In this day women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers,
nor Hindus themselves. The rakhi may also be tied on other special occasions to show solidarity
and kinship as was done during the Indian independence movement. The story of Rani Karnavati
of Chittor in Rajasthan [राजस्थान] and Mughal Emperor Humayun is the most significant evidence in the history.
History of Raksha Bandhan
King Bali and Goddess Laxmi
According to a legend the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own abode in Vaikunth.
Goddess Laxmi (महा लक्ष्मी) wished to be with her lord back in her abode.
She went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman to seek refuge till her husband came back.
During the Rakhi Purnima celebrations, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread (Rakhi) to the King Bali. Being asked by King Bali she revealed her
identity and why she was there. The king was touched by her goodwill for his family and her purpose and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he
had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja's devotion to the
Lord Vishnu विष्णु) .
Krishna and Draupadi
According to a popular legend from the epic Mahabharat relating to
Lord Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas She had torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it
around Krishna's index finger to stop the flow of blood. Krishna was touched by her action that He promised to repay the debt. Krishna repaid the debt of love during
"Vastra-Haran" of Draupadi. Draupadi's "Vastra-Haran" was done in the
assembly of King Dhritarashtra, when Yudhishthir, her husband lost her in gamble. At that time Krishna indefinitely extended her saree, so it
could not be removed, to save her pride. Thus Lord Krishna paid his debt towards rakhi tied to Him by Draupadi.
Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun
There is a popular tales of Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun
related to Rakhi of the medieval era when Rajputs were fighting Muslim invasions. When Rani Karnawati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor
realised that she could not defend the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi
to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor, touched by this gesture of sisterly love immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor's honour.
Lord Yama and his sister Yamuna
According to a legend, the ritual of Raksha Bandhan was
followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna . Yamuna (यमुना) tied rakhi
to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister
and promised her protection, will become immortal.
Lord Ganesha and his sister Manasa
It is believed that on the auspicious day of Rakhi, Lord Ganesha (श्री गणेश)
sister Manasa visits him to tie him the rakhi. On seeing this, Ganesha's sons- Shubha and Labha become curious and insist for a sister.
Finally, Ganesha gave in to their demands and creates goddess Santoshi (literally the Mother Goddess of Satisfaction) from the divine flames
that are said to have emerged from his consorts- Riddhi and Siddhi.
Raksha Bandhan in India
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as Rakhi Purnima (full moon in Shravan) in North and South India with different names
and customs. It is celebrated as Grahma Purnima in Orissa.In western India and parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa
Rakhi purnima is celebrated as Nariyal Purnima. In central parts of India such as Madhya
Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkand and Bihar this day is celebrated as Kajari Purnima.
In some parts of Gujarat this day is celebrated as Pavitropana.
Raksha Bandhan Customs
Raksha Bandhan is a festival to celebrate the sacred bond of love and affection between brothers and sisters. On
this day the sister ties Rakhi on the wrist of her brother and both make prayer to God for the well being of each other.
Sisters perform 'aarti' and put tilak on the forehead of her brother. In
return, brothers make promise to take care of his sister and gift to the sister to mark the occasion.
The new rakhis
Rakhis ranging from Rs.5 to Rs 1,500, in various new patterns have hit the
shelves of the market. Rakhis with images of gods and goddesses are being seen for the first time. 'Made in China' rakhis also available in the market with
satin threads, they have small toys, dolls and flowers pasted on them.
But most people preparing to celebrate Raksha-bandhan on August 24 seem unaware of the possible risks of the new rakhis
with the ‘Made in China’ tag which have become an instant hit. Unlike the string-and-bead Indian rakhis, these have figurines of characters like Pokeman
and Hanuman on satin bands, and cost anywhere between Rs20 and Rs450. The figurines can be reused as toys or stick-ons.
It’s the bright colours on these figurines which are a cause of concern because millions of
Chinese-made toys have been withdrawn from markets in the US and Europe after they were found to contain lead-based paint that can harm a child if ingested.
Virtual rakhis using Internet
With today’s changing lifestyles and increasing distances between sisters and brothers, the internet can play a vital role in diminishing physical distance and bring
them closer. If Brother is USA and sister in India then she mail a rakhi to
her brother and can make it a point to celebrate the day by video chatting and sharing the virtual gifts through
Twitters. Apt rakhi cards, virtual rakhis and E-mails, leaving Rakhi wishes on each other’s Orkut and Facebook profiles are increasingly becoming popular.
A great idea to express your love and respect Send a lovely Rakhi SMS to make your brother or sister feel special on the
occasion of Raksha Bandhan and uplift the sacred relationship. A fascinating collection of funny and
inspirational Rakhi SMS are available absolutely free to commemorate the relationship and express your affection and reverence towards your dear brother or sister.
New approach to celebrate Rakhi festival
Find out that
thing or gift that pleases
your sister. You can to help her fulfill her dream, by giving her
something in which you have put your heart into. You can gift her
the items related to her hobby. You can pay a surprise visit to her. There is nothing like surprising your sister with an impromptu
visit to make them feel special and show them how much you care.
Himachal women tie rakhis to protect trees
The Rakhi festival has turned into a rallying point for hundreds of village women near here as
they pledge to protect their 'brother' trees that will be drowned by the Renuka hydroelectric project. Women from
villages near this town in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district are tying rakhis -- a sacred thread symbolising the brother-
sister bond -- on the trees as the dam aimed at providing drinking water to New Delhi will inundate them.
"It's a noble way to draw the attention of dam authorities to the voluminous damage to biodiversity in the area with its construction," said Rukhmani Devi of Mohtu village, situated on the banks of the Giri river.
Raksha Bandhan day
to promote environmental awareness
In a novel way to promote environmental awareness on the occasion of Raksha
Bandhan, a Lucknow zoo asked its visitors to tie a rakhi around a tree and take an oath to protect the green cover in their vicinity.
As many as 1,001 colourful rakhis were put on display at the entrance to the zoo, from where the visitors had to select one and tie it around a tree on the premises of the zoological gardens.
In western India and parts of Maharashtra , Gujarat
and Goa Raksha Bandhan day is celebrated as Narali Purnima. On this day, an offering of a coconut (naral in Marathi)
is made to the sea, as a mark of respect to Lord Varuna, the God of the Sea. Narali Purnima marks the beginning of
the fishing season and the fishermen, who depend on the sea for a living, make an offering to Lord Varuna so that they can reap bountiful
fish from the sea.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh have greeted the nation on the occasion.
President Mukherjee in his message said Raksha Bandhan is the celebration of the unique relationship that exists between brothers and
sisters. "The tying of a Rakhi by a sister symbolizes love, affection
and mutual trust between sisters and brothers. May the spirit of this festival strengthen fraternal feelings in our society, and remind us of
the importance of unity and harmony, as we strive collectively for the well-being of our people," he added.