Raksha Bandhan Festival

Raksha Bandhan

August 26, 2018 all-day

Raksha Bandhan is a special Hindu festival which is celebrated in India and countries like Nepal to symbolize the love between a brother and a sister. This is celebrated in Shravana month during full moon day or Purnima day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. It typically falls in the August month of Gregorian calendar. Bhadra prevails during first half of Purnima Tithi and one should avoid tying Rakhi during Bhadra.

The festival is made up of two words, namely “Raksha” and “Bandhan.” As per the Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means “the tie or knot of protection”. Together, the festival symbolizes the eternal love of brother-sister relationship which does not mean just the blood relationships only. It is also celebrated among cousins, sister and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija) and other such relations. There are several stories related to the celebration of this special festival.

As per an account of Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, when Lord Vishnu won the three worlds from the demon King Bali, he asked by the demon king to stay beside him in the palace. The Lord accepted the requested and started living with the demon king. However, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wanted to return to his native place of Vaikuntha. So, she tied the rakhi around the wrist of demon king, Bali and made him a brother. On asking about the return gift, Goddess Lakshmi asked Bali to free her husband from the vow and let him return to Vaikuntha. Bali agreed to the request and Lord Vishnu returned to his place with his wife, Goddess Lakshmi.

According to the ancient legend of Bhavishya Purana, once there was a fierce battle between Gods and demons. Lord Indra was fighting the battle on the side of Gods was having a tough resistance from the powerful demon King, Bali. The war continued for a long time and did not came on a decisive end. Seeing this, Indra’s wife Sachi went to the Lord Vishnu who gave her a holy bracelet made up of cotton thread. Sachi tied the holy thread around the wrist of her husband, Lord Indra who ultimately defeated the demons and recovered the Amaravati. Unlike, the present times, those holy threads were not limited to brother-sister relationships.

Based on an account of Mahabharat, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas tied a piece of cloth from her sari to Lord Krishna when he hurt his finger while setting off his Sudarshan Chakra to fight evil and Kunti tied the rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war.

Another legend says that the death God, Yama did not visit his sister Yamuna for a period of 12 years who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality of her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted who asked Yamuna for a gift. She expressed her desire to see her brother again and again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna immortal so that he could see her again and again. This mythological account forms the basis of festival called “Bhaiya Dooj” which is also based on the brother-sister relationship.

The festival is celebrated in different forms in different areas and is also known by different names. The festival is mainly celebrated by the Hindus in the northern and western parts of India along with countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Mauritius. The occasion is also revered by the Jain community where Jain priests give ceremonial threads to the devotees. This festival devoted to the brother-sister love is observed by the Sikhs as “Rakhardi” or Rakhari.

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