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Raksha Bandhan: An Oath of protection

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Raksha Bandhan: An Oath of protection

Raju Bai was the widow of Havaldar Mohan Singh Suner, a resident of Pir Pipliya village in Depalpur district who was killed in a clash with terrorists in 1992. Since then she was left alone with two children and was suffering from past 26 years in a broken hut on just a pension of mere 700 Rupees. Raju Bai tied Raksha sutras on the writs of the neighbours of her village in the Raksha Bandhan of 2018. The youth of that village pledged before her to end her woes by replacing her old hut with a new concrete house. The villagers accumulated 11 lakh Rupees for the next year Rakhi gift.

This story sparks the love embedded in tying Rakhi. It is not just the band tied on the wrist, it is an exchange of emotions and love between them. The story also defies the blood relation and goes beyond it to set the benchmark.

Origin & History

The festival of Raksha Bandhan has evolved a lot over time and the civilisation has witnessed several incidents over time that anyway.

Lord Krishna hurt his finger from his Sudarshan Chakra while fighting King Shishupal, seeing this Draupadi tied a piece of cloth from her saree to stop the bleeding and in return, Krishna promised to protect her. This was the beginning of Raksha Bandhan and the first-ever Rakhi tied in human history.

It was not just limited to the brothers. In medieval India, women tied Rakhi to men considering them their brothers seeking their protection.

Evolution

History has witnessed several changes in the trends of Raksha Bandhan.

Starting from Draupadi and Lord Krishna, after this the sisters started tying rachis to their brothers with an oath of protection and security.

At the time frame of Mahabharata, Brahmins used to tie rakhi to the warriors as a protection from the threat of the warfare and ensure their victory.

In medieval India, women who did not have brothers tied rachis to the men for their protection as the time frame was not that much safe for the women to isolated without someone standing by them.

In the digital age, rakhis have been also digitalised and people are crushing the geographical barriers by using e-rakhi. This is much appreciated in the modern-day nuclear family where distance has separated many family members due to migration.

In the 21st Century, the interpretation of this ritual may exchange roles and it can go either way. To share a bond between the siblings and to celebrate it more playfully by exchanging gifts. At times elder sisters have tied rakhi who by their younger ones in case if they don’t have a brother.

Other times Rakhi is used as a symbol to bind and defend friends, members of congregations, political leaders, soldiers, social workers, policemen, doctors etc.

Raksha

The purpose of Raksha Bandhan and tying of rakhi is to honour the relationship between the brother and sister, symbolizing a sister’s need for his protection and his duty to defend her. The sentiment is to renew the filial bond of peace and love between them.

Rakhi Threads, Kumkum powder, Rice, Diya, Agrabattis and Sweets are gathered on the Pooja Thali for doing the “Arti” of the brother by the sister. After tying Rakhi, the sister chants a traditional prayer and marks the forehead with Kumkum powder.

After this brother present gifts and an oath of protection.

Meaning and Muhurat

Rakhi derives from the Sanskrit word rakshika, root word Raksha meaning protection or to protect.

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated each year on the full moon in the month of Shravana according to the Panchang Calendar in the Hindu Mythology.

The festival is based in the monsoon season and it a parable to eradication all the dirt and stains from our soul and purify us.

This year it falls on 3rd August. Each year there is a particular time (Muhrat) for celebrating or tying the Rakhi. This year the muhrat is from 9:28 in the morning till 9:17 in the night.

Sisters tie Rakhis on the wrist of their brothers and a Tilak is put on the forehead of the brother. In some cultures, sisters also put a piece of barley behind the ear of the brother. This is followed by the gifts given by the brothers to the sisters packaged with an oath of protection and security.

Tagore, Humayun and Rakhi.

Rakhi played a crucial role in the unification of Indians during the Indian Independence Movement. In 1905, the first partition of Bengal took place and the Muslim majority people settled in East Bengal and the Hindu Majority in West Bengal. Unification of every Indian was the need of the hour for the Indian Independence Movement and hence partition may have backfired at this time. Rabindranath Tagore organised a mass Rakhi ceremony just after this between the Hindus and Muslims to remove any enmity between them.

It is said that when Rani Karnavati of Mewar was under attack by the Bahadur Shah of Gujarat she sought protection from the Emperor Humayun by writing a letter and sending a Rakhi. Touched by this gesture the Mughal emperor rushed to protect her but was late in reaching.

Misuse of Rakhi

Though it may sound silly to many of you what I am about to tell now I feel I must present this in front of you.

I have witnessed the misuse of Rakhi numerous times throughout my life and it is most common in teenagers.

Elders and parents have at times misused the concept of Rakhi and young girls are forced to tie Rakhi to the boys for whom they have intimate feelings which are often discarded by the parents.

Often boys also misuse the concept and they ask girls to tie Rakhi owing them protection, but instead, the intentions remain dirty.

We must try our best to stop this use of Rakhi because this is a stain on the values of Rakhi.

Is Feminism a threat to Raksha Bandhan?

Promotion of equal rights and opportunities for each man and women is a good thing and I stand by it. Whereas in the progressive modern feminism has some features that pose a threat to our culture. The renowned Feminist Shulamith Firestone stands by her opinion of removing the yoke of reproduction from women as an ultimate victory to feminism. This ideology threatens the core idea of our culture and also endangers the very Raksha Bandhan. We can imagine a time when this type of feminism will be at a peak and then security/protection of females by the men may be undervalued. Afterall women will be self-sufficient and they may not agree upon the oath of protection from their brothers.

I hope this day never comes, I love the way we celebrate Raksha Bandhan now and want it the same way till eternity.

Hope you too feel the same and let me know your views if you think otherwise.

Conclusion

Can’t say much, will just request everyone to maintain the holiness of Raksha Bandhan. We must try to keep up to the values embedded in the first tying of Rakhi by Draupadi to Lord Krishna. It is a symbol of unity and to promote the existing love between the siblings. Happy Raksha Bandhan.

Thank you so much for reading. Wish everyone Raksha Bandhan by sharing this beautiful article.

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