Family in Indian culture and history has always been of great priority and significance. Festivals that highlight this auspicious bond are celebrated throughout the year. One such festival is Raksha Bandan which is celebrated on Purnima or full moon of the month of Shraavana in the Hindu calendar. It celebrates the bond between a brother and a sister and has proven to not limit itself to blood siblings, but cousins, trusted neighbours and friends also. On this day, the sister ties a band around her brother’s wrist and in return, her brother presents her with a gift and the promise of protection.
The Story of Raksha Bandhan
This tradition has been followed through Indian history and comes from Hindu mythology. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi (the wife of the Pandavas) aided Krishna in his time of need. On seeing him bleed profusely from a battlefield wound on his wrist, Draupadi tore a strip of her silk sari and tied it around his wrist as a bandage. Touched by her act of concern, Krishna promised to return the favour to her when she would most need it.
When Yudhishthira wagered and lost Draupadi to the Kauravas in a round of gambling, Krishna repaid the debt during her Cheer-Haran. When the Kauravas were trying to disrobe her, Krishna extended her sari through divine intervention in such a way that the length of her sari kept increasing. Her sari, in process, could not be removed and in the end, Draupadi’s honour was kept intact.
In history, the significance of rakhi has been brought about as well. When Rani Karnavati’s empire was under threat from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, the queen sent a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun to aid her in her time of need. Although Humayun was too late to save the Queen from her ultimate death, he succeeded in slaying Bahadur Shah. He restored the kingdom to Karnavati’s son, Vikramjit Singh. During the Partition of Bengal in 1905, Hindus and Muslims tied yellow rakhis on each others’ wrists to show their undying unity.
By showing their affection for one another in a traditional manner, the ceremony of Raksha Bandhan has strengthened the bond between brothers and sisters across the country.
The tradition of Raksha Bandhan is age-old. Can you try and find out about the Rakhi story of Roxana, the wife of Alexander the Great, and Porus, the Katoch king?
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