Raksha Bandhan / Rakhi in History
Raksha Bandhan in History: – The relationship is the essence of any celebration and it particularly holds true for Indian as well as Nepalese people. One of such festivals which brings the family together and calls for huge celebrations is RakshaBandhan. Simply called Rakhi, RakshiBandhan is a secular or religious festival celebrated by Hindus all over the world, especially by Nepalese and Indians. This festival usually falls on the full moon day of the Luni-solar calendar on the month of Shravan.
Similarly, on the Gregorian calendar, this festival falls on the month of August. RakshaBandhan generally means the Bond of Protection and it celebrates the love, bond, and duty between the brothers and sisters. On this day, a sister ties a sacred thread (Rakhi) on her brother’s wrist with lots of love and prayers for his long life, prosperity, nd happiness. The Rakhi symbolizes the love a sister has for her brothers. In return, a brother gives a token of love or gift with the promise to protect her for a lifetime.
The day of Rakhi or RakshaBandhan starts with tying a thread (sacred thread) on a brother’s wrist by a sister. This day is also a day to unite and enjoy. Brothers and sisters from every corner of the world indulge in this pleasant and joyful moment and share the bond of love they have for each other. On this day, they exchange gifts wrapped with lots of emotions and love. All those sisters and brothers who are far from each other and have no time to meet in person sent the hearty wishes to their siblings or brothers via post or online. This is definitely a day to unite and share love, bond, and happiness.
This tradition of Raksha Bandhan is believed to have originated about 6000 years back when the Aryans created first civilization. However, the religious myths and method of celebrating this festival differ from places to places. There are few historical pieces of evidence that Raksha Bandhan has been a major celebration in Indian history. During the medieval ears, Rajputs of today’s India were fighting Muslim invasions. When the queen Karnawati, widowed queen, realized that she could not defend the invasion by the Muslims, she sent a rakhi to an Emperor Humayan. During that time, Rakhi meant a spiritual binding and promise of protection. The emperor was hugely touched by the gesture of Queen Karnawati and started off fighting with his troops without wasting any second.
One of the oldest and most popular references of the festival of RakshaBandhand goes back to the period of Lord Krishna and Draupadi. At that time, in order to protect all the good people, Krishna had killed Shishupal. During the battle, Krishna was injured and his finger was bleeding. Seeing Krishna bleed, Draupadi tore a strip of her sari and tied it around the wrist of Krishna to stop bleeding. This act of Draupathi left Krishna moved and he realized the affection and concern Draupathi had for him. That day, he declared himself bounded by the bond of love by her sister. Many years later, when the Pandavas lost Draupadi on a game and Kauravas were removing her sari, Krishna helped Draupathi as a return gift.
The story of King Bali and Lakshmi Goddess equally signifies the importance of RakshaBandhan. King Bali or Mahabali was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Impressed with the immense devotion upon him, Vishnu took the task of protecting Bali’s kingdom leaving her place in Vikundam. The wife of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi was sad as she wanted Vishnu by her side. So, she went to Bali and took refuge in his palace. On the day of a full moon on Shravan, she tied a rakhi on Bali’s wrist and revealed herself and the reason for her being there. The king, as well as Lord Vishnu, was touched by this move. Since that day, it is believed that it has become a tradition to invite sisters on the full moon of Shrawan (SravanPurnima) to tie sacred thread or rakhi on the brother’s hand.
Another instance of Raksha Bandhan being celebrated goes back to around 300 B.C.At that time, Alexander invaded India. It is said that the Indian King Puru was furious of the Great King Alexander of Macedonia as he had conquered India. Upset at this, the wife of Alexander approached the king Puru to tie a rakhi on his wrist. Moved by this, King Puru also accepted her request and enjoyed the day with his new sisters.
The festival of RakshaBandhan also has a history of the Sikh people. In the 18th century, Sikh Khalsa introduced the term Rakhi as a promise of protection to farmers from armies of Mughals and Afghans. Ranjit Singh, founder, and ruler or Sikh Empire observed this festival of RaskhaBandhan. Maharani Jindan, the wife of Ranjit Singh, sent a rakhi to the ruler of Nepal, who accepted her as a sister and gave them refugee in Nepal back in 1849. This proves that the festival of RakshaBandhan has been observed by great historians and is still one of the prominent festivals in Nepal as well as in India.
Hence, the festival of Rakhi or RakshaBandhan holds great significance. This festival celebrates the love between the brothers and sisters and siblings have been celebrating this festival for a very long time.Apart from people living in Nepal and India, this festival is also popular among the people who have settled elsewhere other than the motherland. This festival holds a great historical as well as the mythological importance and more than that, it is the only festival where the brothers and sisters come together and share the love for each other.
Writer: Asmita Sharma