Raksha Bandhan: The Bond of Protection

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Raksha Bandhan, meaning the bond of protection, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the bond of a brother with his sister. Celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Shravan (August), Raksha Bandhan symbolises the duty of a brother to protect his sister with undying devotion.

The occassion is marked by a ritual whereby the sister marks her brother’s forehead with vermillion, ties a holy thread on his right wrist and feeds him sweets. In return, the brother gives her his blessings along with some gifts. In the recent years however,  chocolates have replaced traditional Indian sweets and rakhis (holy thread) have turned to fancy bands, but the emotion remains unchanged.

Although primarily initiated in north and west India, Raksha Bandhan is now considered an auspicous festival, especially for the Hindus all over the world. Said to have originated from the worship of Lord Varun, the God of Water, Raksha Bandhan often involves ritualist offerings of coconuts to the virtuous sea God. Thus, Raksha Bandhan is often called Vish Tarak (destroyer of venom) and Paap Nashak (destroyer of sins).

With various development to the custom, a new trend has also emerged wherein women are now tying rakhi on the wrist of the local policeman, acknowledging the fact that they sacrifice their familial time to protect commoners.

When originally the custom of Raksha Bandhan started, rakhi was tied on the wrist of the brother by his sister alone. But now, girls without any male siblings have also started tying rakhi to their sisters. The idea is to show that even sisters can be each other’s heroes.

History too has borne witness to the importance of this festival. The pages of history has seen political ties and alliances been formed when Rajput and Maratha queens sent rakhis to Mughal rulers, and many a wars have been stopped with the symbol that is carried by the rakhi.

Rakhi has now become an excuse for families to get together and share a moments of laughter. From swanky mobile phones to doughnuts and chocolates, sisters receive a plethora of gifts. Blood bonds are transcended when rakhi is tied to close neighbours and friends. With the celebration of this festival, peace and harmony prevails, and happiness is shared.

Happy Raksha Bandhan to all!

Arushi Walecha 

Image Source [The Viewspaper]