Legends of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan Festival
Legends of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan Festival : Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan literally translates to the knot of protection. The origin is around 6000 years old when the first civilization ‘the Indus Valley Civilization’ was at its peak.
Rakhi is a festival that gives a significance to the pure relation of brother and sister. There are different legends regarding the meaning of this festival and all the things that we do on this day. In Hindu mythology, Rakhi signifies peace and fraternity. Rakhi is also known as RakshaBandhan and it is a thread or sometimes an attractive bracelet with religious significance that is tied on the wrist. The sentiment behind tying a Rakhi is that of reverence and responsibility. When sisters tie it around the wrist of brothers, it signifies a bond where the brother promises to take care of the sister. It is the bond of following one’s duty and responsibility towards that relation. Among Hindus in different parts of South East Asia, mainly India and Nepal, follow this tradition. In India, it is celebrated as Rakhi and in Nepal, it is celebrated as RakshaBandhan. As the name itself signifies, it is a Bandhan, i.e a thread that is tied on the wrist expecting ‘Raksha’ meaning safeguard. So, it is a thread with a symbolic meaning meant to safeguard the person you are tying the Rakhi to.
The bond of Rakhi, as pure as it is, carries significance for Hindus all around the world. But it didn’t become such a revered festival suddenly. There are many legends that made this festival what it is right now. Different legends that further signify Rakhi are given as follows:
Legends of Lord Krishna and Draupadi
Legends have it that Rakhi played a significant role in the ‘Mahabharat’, a Hindu epic, in developing a sacred relationship between Lord Krishna and Draupadi. Draupadi was the wife of the Pandavas. It has been said that after every battle if Lord Krishna got injured Draupadi would tear a piece of her clothing and wrap it around Krishna’s wrist. This made Krishna very reverent towards Draupadi and that is why he made Draupadi his sister. He vowed to protect and take care of Draupadi in future as well. This explains the episode when Kauravas tried to pull Draupadi’s saree and Krishna came into rescue.
Legend of Yudhishthira
Another famous legend is that whenever there used to be battles, Lord Krishna would ask Yudhishthira to organize Rakhi ceremony to lighten the mood and to neutralize the environment a bit. It became a way to forget the atrocities of the war and to get the peace of mind.
Legend of Kunti
Kunti is the mother of Pandavas’s. It has been said that Kunti used to tie Rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu in order to protect him from negativity in life and everything that’s happening around. This thread is supposed to have saved Abhimanyu from negativities during his lifetime.
Legend of Indra and Indrani
When there was a battle going on between demons and Gods in heaven, Indrani who is the wife of Indra used to tie a red thread around Indra’s wrist. This was to make sure he would win the battle and wouldn’t be injured. It has been said that it was because of this ritual, Indra won the battle against the demons. After this, tying red thread has become a custom among lovers.
Legend of Yama and Yamuna
Yama is the lord of death among Hindus and Yamuna is a holy river. Yama and Yamuna are brother and sisters. It has been said that the Yamuna tied Rakhi to Yama and prayed for his immortality. That gave him an immortal life. After this incident, Yama declared that if any sister ties Rakhi around the wrist of her brother, the brother will also receive the blessings of the sister and become immortal.
Legend of Goddess Laxmi and King Bali
Once when Lord Vishnu was busy protecting his kingdom, Laxmi, his wife was left alone in Vaikuntha. She went to the Earth and sought shelter in the kingdom of King Bali until her husband would be back. King Bali was the follower of Vishnu and he gave shelter to Laxmi. On the day of ShravanPurnima, Laxmi tied a yellow thread around King Bali’s wrist. She also revealed herself and her purpose to come to seek shelter there. This incident later became symbolic and became a custom where brother sisters tie yellow thread as rakhi around each other’s wrists.
Legend of Alexander the Great and King Puru
Legends have it that Alexander the Great, who intruded to India in 326 BCE fought against King Puru. At that time, Alexander’s wife Roshanak sent a sacred thread to King Puru. It was sent as a request for him not to cause any harm to Alexander during the battle. Because of this commitment, King Puru later did not assault Alexander in the battle.
Legend of Poet Rabindranath Tagore’s Rakhi
Rabindranath Tagore, who is the Nobel laureate poet from India, had organized a Rakhi ceremony among Hindu and Muslim in India. This organizing of the festival helped in spreading the spirit of fraternity among Hindu and Muslim all over India. As a result, the partition that was about to happen by way of British Empire in 1905 between Bengal was halted.
Rakhi is, therefore, the symbol of a sacred bond that demands devotion from the both sides. May it be between brother and sisters, or between lovers or between friends, it represents a sentiment that is pure. Hindus believe it with so much reverence that it is now one of the biggest festivals that Hindus from all around the world celebrate. Mainly it celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. It is supposed to make the relationship between brother and sisters much deeper and full of responsibility on the both sides.
This way, different legends and a beautiful sentiment that is behind the ritual itself is what makes Rakhi as special as it is right now. Celebrated by Hindus all around the world, it is the celebration of relationship and responsibilities associated with it.
Writer: Asmita Sharma
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