The relationship between a brother and a sister is an extraordinary one. The relationship is both sweet and savory as the tiny and silly fights they have in between their love for each other. They also support each other, have their back, and guide each other when they need help. To celebrate this special bond between the sister and the brother, people celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
Raksha Bandhan falls in the Shravana month of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the full moon and is also referred to as Rakhi Purnima. On this day, sisters tie a sacred thread on their brother’s wrist for protection. Today, this festival is celebrated not only among brothers and sisters but all siblings, cousins, friends and other precious relations.
On the day of Raksha Bandhan, the siblings wake up early in the morning, take a bath, do the aarti of the Hindu deities, then start the ritual of this festival. The sister applies roli and chawal on the forehead of her brother. Then, she ties a rakhi on the wrist of her brother, feeds sweets to him and prays for his well being. His brother vows to protect her from all odds and gives a rakhi gift to his sister.
Raksha Bandhan is mainly celebrated for protection. Even the name of the festival in Sanskrit means ‘Protection and Bond’. There are many stories and legends in the Hindu mythology that signifies the celebration of this festival. The legends and stories are given below:
According to mythology, in the Vedic period, there was a war between the gods and the demons. This war had taken place on the day of the full moon in the Shravana month. Indra, the god of the skies and lightening, was fighting from the side of the gods against the evil Vritra and other demons. But, the army of the demons was stronger and Indra was worried that the gods may lose the battle. Indra’s significant other, Sachi or Indrani was also worried as losing the war would mean that the world would have to see darker days. So, she prayed to the gods and prepared a sacred thread and tied it around her husband’s wrist which would provide protection to him. In the battle, Indra successfully defeated the demons and was unhurt due to the protection from the sacred thread.
Another story signifying the festival of Raksha Bandhan is of Yama and Yamuna. Following is the story:
The Sun God, Surya was married to Samjna and had two kids named Yama and Yamuna. Samjna could not bear the bright and powerful radiations of her husband hence she fled back to her father. Before leaving, she left Chhaya or shadow of her own, so that nobody finds out.
Surya and Chhaya have a son name Manu. As a stepmother, Chhaya paid more attention to her own son Manu and was mean to Yama and Yamuna. Yama revolted against the behavior of her mother and told her that he knows about her secret and threatened to tell it to his father. Hearing this, Chhaya becomes furious and curses Yama with death and mutilation.
Yama and Yamuna were terrified of the curse. Yamuna then tied a sacred thread on the wrist of her brother praying for his protection. The curse of death was lifted, but Yama met the unfortunate mutilation.
Lord Ganesha had two sons, Shubh and Labh. Once they saw their aunt visit and tie a tread on their father’s wrists and she was showered with lots of gifts. The siblings then asked their father, why was she receiving so many gifts, to which Lord Ganesha explained tying the sacred thread strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters. Shubh and Labh then asked for a sister.
Lord Ganesha then created a little girl from the flames of Riddhi Siddhi to make his sons happy. The little girl tied threads on the wrists of Shubh and Labh. She then received jaggery and chickpeas as gifts. As she was satisfied with what she got as gifts, Lord Ganesha named her Santoshi, who we call today as Santoshi Mata.
Draupadi was a devotee of Lord Krishna as she had immense love for him. The god also adored her and called her ‘Sakhi’ out of love for her. In the act impelling the Sudarshan Chakra, Lord Krishna hurt his finger. Draupadi saw the blood dripping from his fingers, so she immediately tore off cloth from her saree and tied it around the finger of the Lord to prevent from bleeding. Lord Krishna was so moved that he offered her a favor in return of her gesture. But, Draupadi asked him to always protect her from all kinds of odds. When the Kauravas were attempting to dishonor Draupadi, Lord Krishna saved her and he punished the Kauravas for their wrongdoings.
According to this legend, King Bali asked Lord Vishnu to visit his palace and stay with him, after the Lord had won all the three worlds. Lord Vishnu agreed and came to reside in the palace with his companion Goddess Laxmi. But, she did not like the place and wanted to return to Vaikuntha.
She disguised herself as a Brahmin woman and visited King Bali on the day of Shravana Purnima. She then tied a cotton thread on the wrist of the Demon King who was moved by this gesture. He then asked her what she wants as a gift. Laxmi then revealed herself to the king and asked to free lord Vishnu and let go back to Vaikuntha. King Bali agreed, but asked the Lord to visit him once every year and have a meal with him.