The Raksha bandhan is one of the oldest and famous religious festivals of Hindus. It has a wonderful and interesting behind. It is not the festival introduced too recently. Rather it shows us the rich history and making of Raksha Bandhan behind.
Since, this festival celebrates the love among human being in varying relationships, it shows us the value and importance of that love behind. Following are the rich traditions of Rakhi or Rakhri for Hindus.
Raksha Bandhan History, Names, Facts, Importance, Rituals & Traditions You must Know
“Raksha Bandhan” is a Hindu festival celebrated mainly in the Indian sub continent, which commemorates the bond of love and protection between brothers and sisters. Sisters tie a bracelet (rakhi) on their brother’s wrist seeking latter’s lifelong love and security.
The sister’s in return get gifts from their loving brothers. The festival is not restricted to only blood relations, but also those who are not biologically related could very well celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan with same enthusiasm and recognition; they just need to have to psychological bonding like a brother and sister.
“Raksha Bandhan” is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Shraavana (Savan) which coincides with the August month in Gregorian calendar. The festival is known at different places with different names – Saluno, Silono, Rakri or Rakhi.
Rakhi, Rakhri or Raksha Bandhan; Different Names
“Raksha” is a Hindi word derived from “Rakshika” in Sanskrit, which represents a band or bracelet tied to protect. “Bandhan” on the other hand means “bond” or an emotional connection. The festival is also commonly called as “Rakhi” in Northern India after the name of the amulet or thread which the sisters tie on their brother’s wrist.
Legends & Rituals of Raksha Bandhan
There are two prime legendary stories in Hindu mythology which are associated with the origin of “Raksha Bandhan”. One is associated with God Indra and other with Lord Krishna and Yudhisthira.
The first story narrates that once a battle ensued between Gods and demons. The battle lasted for 12 long years and concluded with the victory of demons. Demons captured all the three worlds – heaven, earth and Naraka. Indra, the king of Gods was also removed from his throne.
Lost all his powers and kingdom to the demons, Indra sought the advice of Brihaspati, who is believed to be a spiritual advisor for the Gods. Brihaspati advised Indra for performing a ritual and reciting a sacred mantra on full moon day in Shravana month. Thus the ritual followed and mantras were recited by Brihaspati in presence of Indra and other Gods.
During ceremony a packet of blessings was tied with a sacred thread and kept at the place of rituals. When the rituals concluded the packet of blessings was tied on Indra’s right wrist by his wife Indrani.
Strengthened by the blessings tied to his wrist, Indra fought and regained his kingdom and the three worlds. Since then the festival of Raksha Bandhan is believed to manifest strength, security and protection.
Another legend of Rakhi is mentioned in Bhavishya Purana. It mentions Lord Krishna telling Yudhisthira about a sacred thread to be tied on the wrist on the full moon day in the month of Shravana to evoke blessings, strength and protection.
In the ancient text, Krishna has given a brief description of the rituals to be performed. He told Yudhisthira that – on a full moon day in the month of Shravana, during sunrise a priest should take bath in a river and worship his ancestors and other revered Gods. Krishna further said that on this auspicious day priests should tie a sacred thread to the King’s wrist with blessings to provide strength and protection.
History of Raksha Bandhan 2020
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is being celebrated since ancient times. There are various documented evidences to support this claim.
Among varying folks and legends following are the most authentic records as to the beginning of Rakhsha bandhan festival.
Lord Krishna and Draupadi
This is one of the most popular history referred to Raksha bandhan by Indian Mythology. It is about Lord Krisna and Draupadi who was the wife of five Pandavas. The story tells us as; Once upon a time during the days of Makar Sankranti, Lord Krishna accidently cut his little finger while he was handling sugarcane.
Upon that, his wife, Rukmini, called for official bandages immediately. Darupadi, who was watching all this, cut a little bit of her Saree and tied around the finger of Lord Krishna.
On this Krishna was very pleased. He promised to help her in the times of Need. Thus by doing so, he came to help her. In that rememberance of tieing the band, Rakhi is celebrated.
The Rig Veda mentions tying of a sacred thread on Indra’s wrist, to give him strength for regaining his throne and the three worlds from demons. The Vedas were written in India between 1500 BCE and 1000 BCE, hence proving the ancientness of the custom of Raksha Bandhan.
Later, in the Bhavisya Purana which was completed in 19th century, Krishna had also mentioned the ritual of tying a sacred thread to the wrist of kings to provide strength and protection.
There are documented evidences to suggest that the festival of Raksha Bandhan evolved with the passage of time and began to be celebrated as a commemoration of emotional and psychological bonding between brothers and sisters.
Another belief about the origin of Raksha Bandhan is that, it came to India with the Aryans sometimes around 3000 B.C. The Aryans had a tradition of performing yajna (a ritualistic sacrifice) before going on a battle to invoke the blessings of their revered deities.
After the yajna and before going to the battle, their wives tied a sacred thread on their wrist, which was believed to bless the warriors with safety and security, ensuring their victorious return.
In 1829, the young girls belonging to the Rajput clan initiated the custom of tying Rakhi to the soldiers, giving them the title of their brothers and seeking protection and safety in return. The ritual was followed on the full moon day in the month of Shravana, as narrated in the historical documents.
Importance or Significance of Raksha Bandhan
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is of great religious and cultural significance. The custom of tying the “raksha” has been followed since ancient times and is mentioned in many religious texts. Tying of Raksha to the wrist of a King or his patrons is believed to bless the latter with protection, security and strength.
The ritualistic custom of tying Rakhi by the priest is a part of every Hindu ritual or worship and is practiced widely even today. Every Hindu puja (worship) concludes only with the priest tying “Raksha” on the wrist of those present, in exchange of gifts or other articles.
This reflects the bond which the priests and his patron share with each other i.e. priest as someone who blesses and his patron as someone who is supposed to financially support the priest in return. This signifies the culture of Hindu society and the relationship shared among its different classes.
“Raksha Bandhan” also signifies the brother-sister bond in a Hindu society. It reflects the obligation of a brother as the protector of his sister and also reaffirms the emotional and psychological bond between the two.
The festival also promotes peace and harmony in the society, as in a wider perspective it reduces the incidents of crime against women.
As the ritual is practiced widely, more men and families have started to respect women and have also begun to recognize the latter’s security as their prime obligation.
Another most important significance of Raksha Bandhan is that it gives the married women a reason to return to their parents’ home in the month of Shravana (Savan). Savan is a season of joy, as it marks the arrival of monsoon and earth abounds with greenery.
Young girls and children play on swings hanging from a tree and enjoy in the cool breeze. Therefore, the festival of Raksha Bandhan gives a chance to the women to return to their home in the joyful month of Savan.
How is Raksha Bandhan Celebrated?
Raksha Bandhan is an important festival celebrated mostly in the northern parts of India. It has also expanded to central and western India. Hindus who have migrated out of India celebrate the festival, though privately.
It is primarily a festival to celebrate the special bond shared by brothers and sisters, thus the rituals revolve around them. It is celebrated by the girls and women with much enthusiasm and joy.
They start preparing for the festival days in advance; purchasing rakhi and sweets for their brothers. Those who are not be able to meet their brothers on the day of Raksha Bandhan, send their rakhi by post or courier.
There is a custom of married women visiting their parental home for celebrating Raksha Bandhan. The women are escorted to their parent’s house on the day of Rakhi or in advance. The respective brothers too start buying gifts for their loving sister or sisters.
On the day of Raksha Bandhan, the sisters prepare a puja ki thali (veneration plate) consisting of rakhi, kumkum (a kind of powder), rice grains, diya (small clay lamp) and sweets.
After performing puja (worship) of their deities, the sisters perform aartis of their brothers and tie rakhi in their right wrist. After the initial rites are performed, the sisters offer sweet to their brothers and get money and other items as gifts in return.