RAKSHA BANDHAN; The name says it all. ‘Raksha’ means to protect while ‘Bandhan’ stands for the bond. One of the deepest and the noblest of human emotions is the love of a brother and a sister. Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bond by tying a holy thread around the wrist. Rakhi, a thread, pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments. It means “a bond of protection.” Raksha Bandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil.
While growing up, Raksha Bandhan was more loved because it used to be a holiday. Being a sister it was more like an occasion for receiving numerous gifts. Like every other sibling, I and my brother never went along while growing up. Now that we have shifted to different geographies and don’t stay together anymore, long-distance Raksha Bandhan keeps us connected.
The Rakhi envelope
When I pack Rakhi for my brother, it’s not just the Rakhi but a complete emotional package. I ensure that my parcel doesn’t look incomplete. I always keep a red teeka (kumkum), some rice, a pack of sweets and top the parcel with a small handwritten letter. In the generation of internet and video calls, I cherish the joy a few old school ways give!
On this special full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan, sisters ensure that their brothers should have a rakhi on their wrist. Rakhis are ideally made of silk with gold and silver threads, beautifully crafted embroidered sequins, and studded with semi-precious stones.
A Rakhi undoubtedly helps induce feelings of fellowship, it eases various societal strains, open up channels of expression, allow us to work on our roles as human beings and, most importantly, brings joy into our mundane lives.
The Rakhi ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters but also transcends the confines of the family. The Rakhi tied on the wrists of closed ones, underscores the need for a harmonious social life, in which individuals co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters. The Rakhi Utsav was popularised by the Nobel laureate and Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore.
Rakhi in History
Rakhi was the symbol of a strong bond that resulted in innumerable political ties amongst kingdoms and princely states. The pages of Indian history testify that the Rajput and Maratha queens have sent Rakhis even to Mughal kings who, despite their differences, have accommodated their Rakhi-sisters by offering help and protection at critical moments to honour the fraternal bond. Rani Karnavati, the Queen of Sisodia dynasty of Chittorgarh, the capital of Mewar sent a Rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun, calling him a brother and asking for help.
Rakhi was intended to be an act of worship of the sea god Varuna. Thus, ceremonial bathing, offerings of coconut to Varuna, and fairs at waterfronts accompany this festival.
Some myths describe the ritual as observed by Indrani and Yamuna for their respective brothers, Indra and Yama. Lord Indra was vanquished in a long-drawn battle against the demons. To enhance his powers, Indra’s Guru Brihaspati tied a sacred thread on his wrist, who then attacked the demons with renewed force and destroyed the evil.
Thus Raksha Bandhan symbolises all aspects of protection of good from evil forces. In Mahabharata, we find Krishna advising Yudhishthira to tie the powerful Rakhi to guard himself against impending evils.
When brothers seek Rakhi parcels
The feeling of receiving the Rakhi parcel is a feeling unmatched from all other joys for the brothers too. Tying the Rakhi sent by their sisters gives a personalised touch to the special bond. In return, brothers bestow gifts upon his sisters and they vow to honour and protect her, no matter the circumstances