Raksha Bandhan - Enduring Siblinghood in Indian Framework

raksha bandhan 2023

GeneralWritten By: Suman Kumar Paul

A man's tie with his sister is accounted very close. The two have grown up together, at an age when there is no distinction made between the sexes. And later, when the sister marries, the brother is seen as her main protector, for when her father has died to whom else can she turn if there is trouble in her conjugal household.” – Mayer (1960), Artisan Baker, The Sea Lounge at Taj Mahal Palace. 

Relationships and togetherness play a vital role in the culture-rich land of India and the festivals celebrated here are a symbol of unity and love. Raksha Bandhan is one such heart-warming occasion that is widely observed across the country. Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a time-honored custom that honors the sacred link between siblings, especially brothers and sisters. 

The occasion is known as "the tie or knot of protection" in Sanskrit, where "Raksha" refers to protection and "Bandhan" refers to the verb to bind. Together, the celebration represents the enduring love of the brother-sister bond, which is not limited to blood relationships. Raksha Bandhan is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar during the month of Shravana which falls during August. 

Origin and Traditions 

Rakhi, like most religious events, has its roots in numerous Hindu legendary stories. During a battle between the Gods and the Demons, Brihaspati ordered Lord Indra to have a string tied to his wrist by his wife Indrani, according to the ancient narrative of Bhavishya Purana. The sacred thread represented protection from all evil, hence beginning the tradition of tying Rakhi for Raksha Bandhan.  

Lord Ganesha's sons, Shubh and Labh, desired a sister, and upon the intervention of Saint Narada, Ganesha created Santoshi Maa through divine flames. This fulfilled their wish, and they celebrated Raksha Bandhan with their newfound sister. 

Based on an account of Mahabharat, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas tied a rakhi to Lord Krishna while Kunti tied the rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war. 

In this legend, the dead God Yama didn't visit his sister Yamuna for 12 years, leaving her sad. On Ganga's advice, Yama visited Yamuna, and her warm hospitality pleased him. He granted her a wish to see him again, and she asked for immortality. This tale inspired the festival "Bhai Dooj" celebrating brother-sister relationships. 

On this day, the 'sister' ties a rakhi band or bracelet, generally made of thread, around the wrist of the 'brother' as a reminder of the prayers she will offer for her brother's safety and well-being. In turn, the brother offers to defend his sister to the best of his ability and lavishes her with gifts.  

Rakhi tying is frequently followed by a prayer ceremony in which prayers are offered to the gods and sisters apply teeka (red powder used in religious ceremonies) and grains of raw rice to their brothers' foreheads. Lastly, a magnificent meal follows, as is customary at most festivities.  

Purpose of Celebration 

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is a day when brothers and sisters solidify their respect and love for one another, and sisters receive money and Raksha Bandhan Gifts from their brothers. Sisters with multiple brothers must feel extremely lucky on this occasion. 

  • This festival is primarily a ceremony that connects brother and sister and serves as a lovely mediator of deep love between them. 
  • Rakhi has also evolved to express affection for siblings. Compassion, profound devotion, and a guarantee of protection have all remained intact and even strengthened over time. 
  • This lovely event permits their long-awaited reunion, as they both want to enjoy this day with the same zeal they had as children. 
  • The auspicious Rakhi thread represents affection and dedication between brothers and sisters. 

Significance of The Sacred Cord of Protection 

Raksha Bandhan is mostly associated with protection. But it is not limited to the siblings’ relationship. People frequently go to priests in temples to have a sacred thread tied to their hands. Before the start of a Hindu religious rite, the priest ties a thread around the wrist of the person or people executing the ritual.  

It could also be connected between a wife and her husband, or between a disciple and the Guru. This tie does not have to be between blood relatives; a female may adopt a boy as her brother by tying a Rakhi around his wrist. This practice not only deepens the link of love but also crosses family boundaries.  

Traditional - Regional Variation of Celebration 

The festival of Raksha Bandhan and the ritual have been celebrated across the Indian continent. The traditional region of its observance is north India, central India, western India, and Nepal, as well as other regions of India and foreign Hindu communities such as Fiji, have also been included. It is primarily a Hindu holiday; however, in addition to India and Nepal, Hindus also commemorate this occasion in Pakistan and Mauritius.  

While Raksha Bandhan is observed throughout India, different localities observe the day in different ways. For example - Jhulan Purnima, Rakhi Pournima, Janai Purnima, and many more.  

“Raksha” Bandhan in Modern India 

In conclusion, Raksha Bandhan is a timeless celebration that celebrates the precious bond of siblinghood in India. It exemplifies the ideals of love, caring, and protection that unite families and communities. 

In the modern celebration of Raksha Bandhan, let us prioritize the safety of the entire cosmos. Let us make a resolution to show our affection by tying a thread around a tree and taking responsibility for its care on this important occasion. Let us use this day to do something for the protection and well-being of our natural environment while continuing to celebrate, expressing the spirit of brotherly love, and building a sense of togetherness in India's rich tapestry. 

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