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Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit literally means “the tie or knot of protection”. The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. Raksha Bandhan is the festival of rakhi and the festival of brother and sister. This festival is celebrated on Shravan Pournima (full moon in the month of Sravana in the lunar calendar).
History of Raksha Bandhan
Krishna and Draupadi
An incident from epic Mahabharata relates Lord Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas. Once Draupadi tore a strip of her saree and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to stop the outflow of blood from battlefield wound.
Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that.Krishna repaid the debt of love during the “Cheer-Haran” (“clothing-removing”) of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarashtra when Yudhisthira lost her to the Kauravas in gambling.
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
King Bali was a great devotee of lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu promised to guard his kingdom leaving his own dwell in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wished to be with her Lord back in her dwell. She went to Bali in a different appearance as a woman seeking refugee till her husband returns.
During Shravan Purnima celebrations, Lakshmi tied a sacred string to the king. When asked by king Bali, she revealed the truth and her purpose to be there as a woman. The king moved by her goodwill for her family and requested Lord to accompany her. King Bali sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife.
Rituals to be performed during Raksha Bandhan
1. For tying the rakhi, a short wooden stool is placed for the brother to be seated.
2. A rangoli design is drawn around this wooden stool.
3. Sattvik(Devine) frequencies are emitted from the rangoli designs made in this way and they help in making the environment of the place Sattvik. (The brother wearing new clothes and a cap on his head, applies tilak on his forehead and sits on the wooden stool. Sister stands in front of him with a platter for aukshan in her hand. Both brother and sister close their eyes, pay obeisance to the God.)
4. Now both brother and sister pray to the deities for the protection of each other.
5. The sister applies tilak of vermillion to the brother.
6. The sister ties the rakhi on the right wrist of the brother.
7. After tying the rakhi, a ghee lamp aarti is waved in a semi-circle in front of the brother.
8. After waving the aarti, the brother gives his sister something as a gift. The sister should respect the brother by accepting his gift.
Significance and Purpose of Raksha Bandhan
1. The brother pledges to protect the sister in every birth. To symbolise this he allows her to tie a string on his wrist.
2. The sister complies so that he keeps his promise. Since the historical ages, this custom is prevalent to keep a brother and sister in a relationship.
3. Just as the brother is bound by a promise to protect the sister once getting a string tied onto his wrist, so also the sister prays to God for his protection.
4. On this day frequencies of Lord Ganesha and deity Saraswati reach the earth in greater quantities and both the siblings benefit from the custom to a greater extent.
5. When tying the rakhi the Divine Energy principle in the woman gets manifested and is transmitted to the man through the wrist.
6.The more the spiritual emotion in the sister, the more her motivation to attain God and the more the grace of the Guru upon her the greater is the effect of her prayer unto God for her brother which results in greater spiritual progress for him.
Message of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan symbolizes the unmatched bond of love, care, and respect. But in a broader perspective the festival of Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) conveys an intrinsic message of universal brotherhood and sisterhood. Thus the festival of Rakhi conveys a message that has socio-spiritual significance underscoring the need for nurturing of positive qualities, purity in thought, word, and deed. Raksha Bandhan is practiced as a symbol of worldwide brotherly love, devotion, and protection of fellow humans.