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Rakshaa Bandhan

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Rakshaa Bandhan
Shraavan Poornimaa

There are four most important festivals in Northern India - Holee (comes in March), Rakshaa Bandhan or Raakhee comes in August), Dashaharaa (comes in October), and Divaalee (comes in October or November). They are normally related to four Varn - Holee to Shoodra, Rakshaa Bandhan to Braahman, Dashaharaa to Kshatriya and Divaalee to Vaishya. These characteristics manifest themselves in the method of their celebrations also. Holee is celebrated in a rash way as of Shoodra nature, Rakshaa Bandhan in a very quiet and decent way as of Braahman way, Dashaharaa with weapons in Kshatriya way, and Divaalee in a prosperous way as of Vaishya way.

This festival, Rakshaa Bandhan, falls on Shraavan Poornimaa. In Northern India, all sisters tie Raakhee on their brothers' wrist, feed them good food and sweets. Brothers give them some money in return of that, although they may give anything.

In fact the whole Shraavan month is for girls. If the girls are in their in-law's house, they normally come to their parent's house to celebrate these festivals. There are mainly three festivals in Shraavan month - Naag Panchamee, Hariyaalee Teej and Rakshaa Bandhan. Normally they come in  the beginning of Shraavan Maas, celebrate all the three festivals and then go back to theit in-law's house after celebrating Rakshaa Bandhan. Thus they spend the full Shraavan Maas in  their parent's house. There are many folk songs requesting mother to call them to their mother to her house as the Shravan Maas has started.

The Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
Relationships are the essence of any festivity and it holds true for any Indian festival. Each occasion brings the family together which calls for a celebration. Rakshaa Bandhan is a celebration of one such relation - that is of a brother and a sister. This relationship is no where so celebrated as in India. Rakshaa Bandhan is a festival which celebrates the bond of affection between brothers and sisters. It is a day when siblings pray for each others' well being and wish for each others' happiness and goodwill. The name 'Rakshaa Bandhan' suggests 'a bond of protection'. On this auspicious day, brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles and the sisters pray to God to protect their brother from all evil. Sisters tie the silk thread called Raakhee on their brother's wrist and pray for their well being and brothers promise to take care of their sisters.

The Significance of the Festival
Rakshaa Bandhan is now considered as a day to celebrate the sacred relation of a brother and a sister. Yet there have been examples in history where in Raakhee has just been a Rakshaa Dhaagaa (protection thread). It could be tied by wife, or a daughter or a mother. Rishi tied Raakhee to the people who came seeking their blessings. The sages tied the sacred thread to themselves to safe guard them from the evil. It is by all means the 'Paap Todak, Punya Pradaayak Parv' or the day that bestows boons and end all sins as it is mentioned in the scriptures. Some people tie Raakhee to neighbors and close friends signifying a peaceful co-existence of every individual. Raakhee Utsav was first popularized by Rabindranath Tagore to promote the feeling of unity and a commitment to all members of society to protect each other and encourage a harmonious social life.

In today's scenario, the day has a different perspective. The occasion involves a pledge of life-time practice of moral, cultural and spiritual values. The values and the sentiments attached to the rituals of this festival are worth inculcating by the whole human race, the sentiments of harmony and peaceful coexistence. The festival of Rakshaa Bandhan assumes all forms of Rakshaa or protection, of righteousness and destroyer of all sin. The ritual of Raakhee tying has become so important that come what may, brothers and sisters try to visit each other place on this particular day tin order to bring back the oneness of the family, binding the family together in an emotional bond of love.

In Bhavishya Puraan, 4/42 Krishn said - "In olden times, in Dev-Asur Sangraam, Daitya got defeated by Devtaa, so they went to Guru Shukraachaarya Jee along with king Bali and told the account of their defeat. Shukraachaarya Jee said - "Hey Daitya Raaj, You should not worry about this, victory and defeat are Kaal's games. Now you extend friendship with Indra, because Indra's wife Shachee has made Indra invincible by tying the "protection thread", that is why you are defeated by him. Now you wait for one year, then you will be all right." So Daanav got satisfied and waited for their turn. This is the wonderful effect of Rakshaa Bandhan, it gives one victory, happiness, son, health, and wealth.

In Mahaabhaarat, an incident is mentioned - When Yudhishthir was doing his Raajsooya Yagya, there was a question who should be worshipped first? Sahadev suggested Krishn's name, most approved it but Shishupaal started abusing Him. As per His promise to Shishupaal's mother He tolerated His 100 abuses and as he abused Him 101st time, He cut his neck from His Chakra. His mortal finger started bleeding by the use of Divine weapon Chakra. Draupadee immediately got up from her throne, tore her valuable dress and tie a bandage on Krishn's finger. Krishn felt obliged and said - "Krishney, I will pay you for this in such a way that the whole world will see and remember." Draupadee was completely ignorant of her future. Later, as everybody knows, Krishn helped her to increase her dress when Dushaasan tried to pull her dress to make her naked.

On the Poornimaa of Shraavan Maas, first one should do Tarpan with water in the morning. In the afternoon, make a protection bag like this - put some rice, white Sarshap, gold, mustard seed, Doob grass, and sandalwood etc in the cotton or silken cloth piece bag and tie it, keep it in a copper pot, and establish it methodically. Smear the courtyard with cow dung, draw a Mandal and put one low stool on it. The king should sit on it with his minister and Purohit. Braahman and Suhaagin women should worship the king. Later Purohit should tie that bag in king's right hand reading the following Mantra (the Mantra is given on p 536). Then the king should please the Purohit by giving him clothes, food and Dakshinaa. All four Varn should observe this Rakshaa Bandhan. Who observes this day like this, he lives happily the whole year."

This description given by Krishn shows that this festival is not only of brother and sister but anybody can tie this so called "Protection Thread" to anybody, even wife can also tie it to her husband for his protection. Thus it is not Raakhee, as people think that only a sister can tie it on her brother's wrist.

There is one more incident which comes in our scriptures regarding the start of Rakshaa Bandhan. In Mahaabhaarat, when Yudhishthir was doing his Raajsooya Yagya, he invited many kings. The quesion arose that who should be worshipped first. Many names came but they were not found satisfactory, ten Sahadev suggested the name Shree Krishn. Shishupal was also present there, he got very ngry hearing this and he started abusing Shree Krishn. Many people heard for some time then they got restless and wanted to kill Shishupaal, but Krishn stopped them to do so saying  that his time had not come yet.

In fact Krishn had promised Shshupaal's mother that He would tolerate his 100 abuses on which he could be killed but as soon he would abuse Him 101st time He would have to kill him, so He was waiting for his 101st abuse. He warned Shishupaal a couple of times but he did not listen to Him. As soon as Shishupaal abused Him 101st time, Krishn called His Chakra to kill Shishupaal and cut his neck with it. When Krishn used His Chakra, His index finger was hurt and bled because the finger was mortal and the weapon was Divine. As Draupadee saw it, she immediately got up from her throne, tore a piece of her cloth and tied it on Krishn's finger. At that time Krishn said to her - "You do not know what you have got after tying this strip of cloth on my finger. I am now indebted to you for giving you such a thing that this world will always remember it."

After that when Dushaasan pulled Draupadee's dress and she called out Krishn for help, Krishn help increasing the length of her dress that all got surprised as how Draupdee's dress became so long that Dushaasan-like Mahaarathee got tired pulling it, and it still never ended.

There is another incident when a Raajasthaan princess sent a Raakhee to Akbar for her protection, and Akbar protected her.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 09/29/13