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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rakhi Is The Himalaya Of Ideals And The Ladder Of Resolutions

Rakhi is a thread of love, which gives this festival a cosmic significance, this thread further strengthens the brother-sister relationship, which not only gives the message of love and belonging, but also gives a sense of duties. Seeing the thread of Rakhi, every brother realizes his duties towards his sister. The festival of Rakhi is celebrated on the last day of the month of Sawan. It is also mentioned in the Mahabharata that when the eldest Pandava Yudhishthira asked Lord Krishna how he could overcome all the difficulties, then Lord Krishna advised him to celebrate the festival of Rakhi to protect him and his army. He used to say that this silk thread of Rakhi has the power with which you can get rid of every objection

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By: Lalit Garg

India has many religious-cultural traditions and festivals; every festival here has its own purpose and colour, which brings different religions, societies and people closer to one another. Raksha-Bandhan also is one such unique cultural festival. The thread of Rakhi is not just a thread of sacred love and protection of a sister, but it is an infallible means of religious, social and familial unity and solidarity. The Rakhi is a festival of providing equality and security to women, because if you look closely, women folk are now touching miraculous heights with their amazing work style in areas full of difficulties and challenges. Be it the army, flying fighter jets, or the wrestling arena, everywhere the whole world welcomes them with thunderous applause. The inspiration to liberate women from bondage, oppression and neglect is woven in the threads of Rakhi. Rakshabandhan is that invaluable bond of affection, which cannot be repaid even by giving everything, let alone money. This festival is a symbol of unbreakable love between brother and sister, and it is an assurance of protection to the woman who has been constantly struggling for security and self-esteem. Through Rakhi, sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers, while brothers take care of their sisters throughout their lives, whether it is a blood relation, or a non-kin sister! Surely, the festival of Rakhi, associated with women’s identity and existence, is a monument of ideals and a step of resolutions.

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Raksha Bandhan is a festival of threads of love, which not only in every house-hold, but in the society and the nation, infuses new energy in human relationships. It infuses excitement and enthusiasm among the sisters, they are eager to tie rakhi on the hands of their beloved brothers. This festival, which is very decent and pure, is centuries old – till now it continues to be a unique festival focused on women’s respect and safety. Apart from real brothers and sisters, many emotional relationships are also tied to this festival, which are beyond the boundaries of religion, caste and country. This festival is a festival of strengthening relationships with the bond of intimacy and affection. Raksha Bandhan is the bond of human emotions even amongst non-kinds. It is a bond of love, sacrifice and duty. Once tied in this bond, it is very difficult to break it. There is so much power in these threads, which is not even in iron chains.
To understand this unprecedented festival of Rakhi, it is very important to understand its historical context; otherwise the color of this festival will remain incomplete. This festival is described in the Bhavishya Purana that when the war started between the gods and the demons, then the demons started dominating. Lord Indra got scared and went to Sage Brihaspati. Indra’s wife Indrani was sitting there listening to the conversation. She purified the silk thread with the power of mantras and tied it on her husband’s hand after which Indra was victorious. There are many historical contexts of this festival as well. When the Rajputs used to go to fight, women used to apply Kumkum Tilak on their forehead, as well as tie Rakhi in their hands.

During the Mughal period, when the Mughal emperor Humayun went to attack Chittor, Rana Sanga’s widow Karmavati took a promise of protection by sending a rakhi to Humayun. Accepting this, Humayun removed the thought of attacking Chittor from his heart and in spite of being a Muslim, in order to protect Chittor, he protected Karmavati and Mewar state by fighting on behalf of Mewar against Bahadur Shah. Similarly, Alexander’s wife tied a rakhi to her husband’s Hindu enemy Puru and made him her brother-in-law and took a vow not to kill Alexander during the war. Puru gave life to Sikandar, honouring Rakhi tied in his hand during the war and the promise given to his sister. Alexander also returned Porus’s kingdom through keeping the dignity of the defense formula, and behaving like a warrior.
Rakhi is a thread of love, which gives this festival a cosmic significance, this thread further strengthens the brother-sister relationship, which not only gives the message of love and belonging, but also gives a sense of duties. Seeing the thread of Rakhi, every brother realizes his duties towards his sister. The festival of Rakhi is celebrated on the last day of the month of Sawan. It is also mentioned in the Mahabharata that when the eldest Pandava Yudhishthira asked Lord Krishna how he could overcome all the difficulties, then Lord Krishna advised him to celebrate the festival of Rakhi to protect him and his army. He used to say that this silk thread of Rakhi has the power with which you can get rid of every objection.

There is another story of Shri Krishna and Draupadi related to Raksha Bandhan in Mahabharata itself. When Shri Krishna killed Shishupala with his Sudarshan Chakra, his index finger got hurt. At that time Draupadi tore her sari and tied a bandage on his finger. It was the full moon day of the month of Shravan. Shri Krishna later repaid this favour by increasing her saree at the time of tearing. In this way, with the two threads of Rakhi, there has been a deep connection not only between brother and sister, but also with the entire human sensibilities.

The festival of Rakhi was earlier more important in North India. Today it is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India. In Maharashtra, it is celebrated as Narali Purnima. People offer coconuts to Varuna Raja in the sea. The three eyes of the coconut are considered to be the three eyes of Lord Shiva. In South India, it is known as Avani Avittam. In Skandha Purana, Padmapurana and Shrimad Bhagwat, the context of Raksha Bandhan is found in the story called Vamanavatar. The story goes something like this- When Danvendra Raja Bali tried to snatch away the kingdom of heaven by completing 100 yagyas, then there was panic among the deities like Indra and they all came to pray to Lord Vishnu. Then Lord Vamana disguised himself as a Brahmin and went to King Bali to beg for alms. Even after the refusal of his Guru, Bali donated three steps of land. God measured the entire sky, underworld and earth in three steps and sent King Bali to the abyss. In this way, because of Lord Vishnu shattering the pride of King Bali, this festival is also famous as Balev.

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These popular stories about Rakhi force us to think that how great were those people with principles and human sensibilities, under whose supervision a whole tradition took birth and continues unabated till date. Today the tradition may be continuing, but that depth of feeling and love is not visible in it. Now he has got the mite of performance. Instead of celebrating the festival with simplicity, the sisters are more concerned about their decorations and in the greed of getting something from the brother on the pretext of Rakhi. Instead of taking a pledge to protect her and remove the crisis, the brother also lightens his pocket, and considers Itishree. Now the tide of brother-sister love is not visible in Rakhi, which might have once been there. That’s why on this auspicious festival of Rakhi, brothers are expected to take an oath to protect and respect not only their sister, but the entire women folk. Only then this festival of Rakhi will become meaningful and the love between brother and sister will remain eternal! (The author is a journalist, columnist who can be reached at lalitgarg11@gmail.com)

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