India - Rakhi Festival of India

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Rakhi Festival of India

All Hindu brothers and sisters look forward to the festival of rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. It is a festivel celebrated in India to celebrate brother-sister love. It generally falls in the month of August and sisters plan weeks in advance, as to how they will surprise their brothers. Rakhi is enjoyed by the whole family, and all the members dress up for the occasion. They come together to celebrate the festival.

Even if the brother and the sister are miles apart they try to meet each other during Rakhi. The sister ties a rakhi, or the holy thread, around her brother’s wrists and the brother promises that he will protect her and look after her. The atmosphere is solemn and emotional.

There have been many cases in the Indian history, when a Hindu or a Muslim sister tied rakhi on her brother’s wrist and the brother laid down his life, even gave away his conquests to honor the rakhi! Such is the emotional power of the rakhi. One such legend is of Rani Karnavati, the widow of the reigning king of Chittor. She was threatened by the king of Mewar, Bahadur Shah. She sent a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun, expressing her desire of seeking protection and help from him. Humayun was so moved that he abandoned an ongoing battle and rushed to help her!

The festival had also moved another great Indian king, Puru. Alexander was invading India in 300 BC. He was shaken by Puru and was apprehensive about his victory. Alexander’s wife had heard about the rakhi festival and its importance to the Indians. She approached King Puru with a rakhi and he accepted her as his sister and didn’t fight Alexander. He was about to kill Alexander when the rakhi on his wrist reminded him of his vow and he pulled back his sword!
There is also a legend of the queen Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas, who, on seeing blood ooze from Lord Krishna’s wrist, tore a strip of cloth from her sari and tied it on his wrist. Krishna became very emotional and declared her his sister. He promised to help and protect her and spent 25 years fulfilling his promise!

Rakhi is a very ancient festival, and for all sects this festival has great importance. Nowadays people of other religions also celebrate it. In fact nothing can be more stressful for a sister if she cannot tie a rakhi on her brother’s wrist on Rakhi day. She has to take consolation by sending a Rakhi to her brother along with gifts by post. It is not uncommon during this time to see the postman carrying parcels to the households. Internet is surely making it easier and sending e-rakhi is becoming common.

Many youngsters take advantage of this day to ward off casual stalkers. The girl ties a rakhi on the stalker’s wrists and from a street side “Romeo” he becomes a brother. It is not surprising to see these “Romeos” running away from their victim on rakhi day!


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