The Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated each year on the full moon day of the Shravan month. Also popularly known as Rakhi, Raksha Bandhan is a symbol of unwavering love and affection between a brother and sister. On this auspicious day, sisters tie a thread of protection, called rakhi, across their brothers' wrists. To celebrate the festival, sisters cook scrumptious cuisines for their brothers while brothers pamper their sisters with exciting gifts. This year, Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated on August 3. Thus, read to know about the festival's history, meaning and significance in detail.
Made up of two Sanskrit words, 'Raksha' which means 'protection and 'Bandhan' which means 'bound or binding' in English, Raksha Bandhan means 'the knot of protection'. The festival symbolizes the eternal love of a brother-sister duo which does not just signify blood relationships. It is also celebrated among cousins.
There are numerous mythological tales behind the celebration of Raksha Bandhan. One of the highly-popular stories is from 'Mahabharata'. It is believed that once Lord Krishna was flying a kite with Pandavas, Subhadra and Draupadi. However, Lord Krishna got hurt with a deep cut by the kite's thread and his wound started bleeding. Thus, Draupadi rushed to him and tied a cloth across his wound to stop the bleeding. Thus, a grateful Lord Krishna promised Draupadi that he will always shield her from all the troubles in life.
Apart from Hindu folklore, the story of Chittor's queen Karnavati and Agra's emperor Humayun's Raksha Bandhan has also been admired by many for years now. It has been said that the widowed queen Karnavati of Chittor, Rajasthan was once attacked by the Afghan Sultan from Gujarat. She realized that it won't be easy for her to win the battle and thus sent a Rakhi to the Mughal emperor. In the wake of accepting the Rakhi, an emotional Humayun sent his soldiers to protect Chittor. This episode added quills to the celebration's significance and furthermore released it from the religious boundaries.
The significance of Raksha Bandhan can be gauged from the fact that it thickens the bond between a brother and sister. This festival marks its roots since ancient times and there are several popular mythological stories that revolve around this tradition. Indian folklore has numerous stories wherein brothers are said to have stepped up to shield their sisters during adverse times. It is also said that queens used to send rakhis to their neighbours, symbolising brotherhood, during ancient times.