Raksha Bandhan 2018: Importance, Significance And History Of Rakhi Festival

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New Delhi | Updated: August 26, 2018 7:43 AM

Raksha Bandhan 2018: The name, Raksha Bandhan, translates to 'Protection Bond', which signifies the promise to protect. On this auspicious day, sisters tie 'Rakhi' around the wrist of their brothers.

On the occasion, sisters pray for the good health and well being of their brothers and in lieu get gifts from their brother. (Source: Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

Raksha Bandhan Festival 2018: The festival of Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated on August 26 and it is considered as one of the most important festivals in Hinduism. The name, Raksha Bandhan, translates to ‘Protection Bond’, which signifies the promise to protect. On this auspicious day, sisters tie ‘Rakhi’ around the wrist of their brothers.

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The Rakhi thread is considered as sacred because it reminds of the promise a brother makes to her sister that he will protect her until death. On the occasion, sisters pray for the good health and well being of their brothers and in lieu get gifts from their brother.

The significance of the festival can be gauged from the fact that it strengthens the relationship between a brother and sister, a defining character of Indian society. Raksha Bandhan is a festival marked since ancient times and there are several mythological stories that revolve around this custom. Indian history has several stories when brothers are said to have stepped up to protect their sisters during times of adversity. It is said that in the ancient times, queens used to send Rakhi to their neighbours symbolising brotherhood.

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According to the Hindu Calendar, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon of the Savan month. The Savan month is considered an auspicious period among Hindus and Lord Shiva is worshipped every Monday this entire time. This year, August 26 is the last day of the Savan month.

The significance of this festival is so much that the postal department issues special envelopes at low cost, in which Rakhis can be sent to their faraway brothers. Indian Railways runs special trains to cherish the significance of this festival. Even though it takes only a few minutes to tie a Rakhi, but preparations are done many days in advance. Sisters choose special Rakhis for their brothers well before the festival. A brother manages to reach to his sister any-how for the moment where his sister would wait with empty-stomach to tie the ‘sacred thread’.

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Every member of the family rises early for the rituals that begin in the morning. A special thali is prepared for the pooja ceremony and is beautifully decorated with ‘roli’, rice grains, ‘diya’, sweets and rakhis. This festival also helps siblings realise the importance of growing up together.

It is said that the festival gained popularity after Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a Rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun when she was in need of his help. It is also believed that Draupadi tied Rakhi to Lord Krishna.

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One of the most popular stories of Raksha Bandhan in India is linked to the Mughal period when there was a struggle between Rajputs and the Mughals. Folklore has it that when the widowed Empress of Chittor, Karnavati, saw crisis in her state, she sent a Rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun and sought help to protect her state against the attack of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. According due respect to the thread that Karnavati had sent, Humayun immediately sent his army to Chittor to protect her.

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It is believed that Draupadi once tore a strip of her sari and tied it on Krishna’s wrist, that stopped Krishna’s bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna then declared her as his sister. In return, Lord Krishna protected Draupadi, when she was abused by the Kauravas in front of Pandavas, who had lost her in a gambling bet.

Raksha Bandhan also finds its links to the birth of Goddess Santoshi, and the relationship Goddess Laxmi and King Bali shared among many other fables of similar nature. Ther eis also a belief that Raksha Bandhan was even followed by Lord Yama (God of Death) and his sister Yamuna (river). Yamuna tied Rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality.

Whatever be the stories or myths associated with the festival, it is celebrated with full fervour with a dash of modern trends. The importance of Rakhi is not limited to common people and their families, even politicians consider this festival as an important tradition. Every year thousands of Rakhis are sent to President, Prime Minister and prominent personalities across the country.

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