Celebrating Raksha Bandhan: Significance of the ancient Hindu festival is all about Brotherhood

Dividing the name: ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bound; in Sanskrit, it literally means ‘the knot of protection’

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Raksha Bandhan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Raksha Bandhan is a festival that’s celebrated each year around mid-August
  • Even the sages tied the sacred thread to themselves as a method of safeguarding themselves against all evils
  • There are logical reasons behind each action performed during this festival

August 18, 2016: This year, India celebrates August 18 as the festival of brotherhood. Raksha Bandhan, popularly known as Rakhi is one of the ancient and most significant festivals among Hindus.

“To the most wonderful sister in the world: they say your rakhi is my promise to protect you but I hope that doesn’t mean that I can no longer mess up your freshly tied ponytail, wrestle for the remote or steal the last piece of cake from your plate. However, I and only I can pick on you, so expect me to soon punch that guy in your class who calls you fat. Not because you aren’t fat but simply because you are MY fatty to annoy. Happy Raksha Bandhan loser, I promise to be your superman in case you ever need one.” – a message from a brother to her sister on Raksha Bandhan.

Messages like the one above, can bring a tear to someone’s eye; for the ancient Hindu festival celebrates brotherhood by bond. Having said that, do any of us know the real reason behind this festival’s existence? If this question has bothered you for a while then do read further to satiate that curiosity.

History

Taking it back to the old school, even the rishi munis tied rakhi to the people who came to seek their blessings whereas the sages tied the sacred thread to themselves as a method of safeguarding themselves against all evils. Rabindranath Tagore first promoted the festival, to spread the feeling of unity and encourage, a harmonious social existence with a promise to protect each other from any harm or evil. In that era, people didn’t stop at siblings; a rakhi was tied to the neighbours and close friends too. It was each individual’s way of signifying a peaceful co-existence.

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Raksha Bandhan elebration with street children
Raksha Bandhan elebration with street children

Significance

Dividing the name: ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bound. In Sanskrit, it literally means ‘the knot of protection’. It’s a festival that’s celebrated each year around in mid-August. Even though it is a Hindu festival, but Jains and Sikhs celebrate it too.

There are logical reasons behind each action performed during the festival. For example, there’s a purpose behind tying the sacred thread on the right wrist instead of the left. It is due to the Brahmin’s action of placing an amulet on your right wrist in order to protect you from misery and depression. This sacred thread promises love, care and respect for one another, in addition to the vow of protection. Additionally, the early morning baths are to purify your mind and soul.

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There are various legends that follow this festival, one such interesting legend is of the Lord of Death (Yama) and his sister, Yamuna. When Yamuna tied a rakhi to him, Yama was so moved by the serenity of it all that he declared immortality to whoever promised protection to their sisters when tied a rakhi. Well, immortality sounds like a good reason to support the celebrations with some gusto.

Raksha bandhan, a festival that involves preparing elaborate food items, distributing sweets, and gifts. The main purpose behind the festival is togetherness, that adds happiness in one’s life. It’s a celebration of love, care and respect that one has for the another.

– prepared by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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