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The ties that bind

Raksha Bandhan celebrated the beautiful bond between a brother and sister. With the festival all set to be celebrated on August 15, here’s a look at the significance and the legends associated with it

RAMESH SAVAIKAR| NT NETWORK

‘Raksha Bandhan’ also known as Rakhi Purnima is a Hindu festival that celebrates the relationship between brother and sister on full moon day of the Hindu month of ‘Shravan’. As purnima commenced on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. and ends on Thursday at 5:58 p.m., the festival will be celebrated on August 15.

As the concept of love and duty between siblings is universal, this festival is popular with many cultures in India and transcends its Hindu origin. In India and Nepal the love between a brother and a sister is symbolised in two words ‘Raksha’ and ‘Bandhan’. As per Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means the ‘tie or knot of protection’ where ‘raksha’ stands for protection and ‘bandhan’ signifies the verb ‘to tie’.

The rakhi is basically a sacred thread of protection embellished with love and affection of a sister for her brother .This frail of thread is considered as stronger than iron as it binds the most beautiful relationship in an inseparable bond of love and trust.

The sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s right wrist in front of a lamp This symbolises their bond and renews the vow of brother to protect his sister.

The festival of Raksha Bandhan is associated with Hindu mythological legends and has deep rooted historical importance.

According to the ancient legend of ‘Bhavishya Purana’ there was once a fierce battle between the gods and demons and Lord Indra faced tough resistance from Bali, a powerful demon king. The battle did not end for a long period. Seeing this Indra’s wife Sachi went to Lord Vishnu who gave her a holy bracelet made up of cotton thread which she tied on Indra’s wrist. Indra ultimately defeated the demon king Bali and recovered the Amaravati.

The festival described these holy threads as amulets which were used by women for prayers and were tied to their husbands when they were leaving for a war.

Another legend says that Lord Vishnu won three worlds from the demon king Bali who asked Vishnu to stay in his palace. Lord Vishnu accepted the request but Laxmi wanted to return back to ‘Vaikuntha’ So, she tied a rakhi on the wrist of King Bali, thus making him her brother. As a return gift she requested Bali to free her husband Vishnu from the vow and let him return to Vaikuntha.

According to another legend in the ‘Mahabharta’ epic, Draupati, the wife of Pandavas tied a rakhi to Lord Krishna while Kunti tied a rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war in Mahabharta

According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that on every Shravani Purnima day, Yamuna used to tie a sacred thread on Yama’s (God of death) right wrist. Yama was impressed with the serenity of this custom and declared that whosoever got a rakhi tied from his sister would become immortal.

In yet another old tale, it is said that Alexander’s wife approached the powerful King Porous and tied a rakhi on his hand to ensure the safety of her husband Alexander during the invasion of the Indian subcontinent.

In Maharashtra and Goa, as per the tradition, on the day of Shravai Purnima or Raksha Bandhan, sisters prepare a rakhi puja thali which includes sweets, roil chawal, rakhi and a diya (lamp). She then puts a tikka on her brother’s forehead, ties a rakhi on his right wrist, feeds him with sweets and then performs aarti. The brother in return presents gifts and promises to protect the sister in every circumstance.

The festival also has a social significance because it underlines the notion that everybody should live in harmonious co-existence with each other. Being a monsoon festival it also gives us a new hope to relish life to its fullest.

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