Raksha Bandhan falls on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan. This year the festival is being celebrated on August 18. According to the English calendar, it falls in the month of August every year. Raksha Bandhan means ‘tie or knot of protection’. It is a symbolic renewal of the relationship between a brother and a sister. The sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist to show her love to him, after which she prays for his well-being and prosperity. In return, the brother takes a vow to protect his sister all throughout her life. The brother gifts his sister in return for the rakhi, which is a designer thread which she had tied on his wrist.
According to the Mahabharata, Draupadi, the Pandava queen had tied a rakhi to Lord Krishna. So Krishna considered Draupadi as his own sister. Raksha Bandhan signifies the virtues of love, affection and protection. The festival is most common among the Hindu community. However, it is also celebrated by the Sikhs, Jains and other communities as well. Raksha Bandhan reinforces the love between brother and a sister. It is the duty of every brother to protect his sister. The sister prays for the well-being, success, and safety of her brother. The brother promises to safeguard his sister under all circumstances. It helps to build a healthy family relationship.
In an era which is marked by movements for women’s liberation and rights, Raksha Bandhan can be celebrated as a festival that promotes brotherly-sisterly bond. The festival of Raksha Bandhan has acquired different expressions and connotations in the course of time. Today, the sisters choose flashy, stylish and expensive rakhis for their brothers or close male friends and look forward to receiving costly gifts from them.
Unknown to many, this festival is rooted in several myths and a spiritual truth of greatest significance that reflect its purity and power of protection. Before the advent of sister-brother ritual, the sacred thread of rakhi was tied by the family priest. It was considered auspicious for all the family members. This custom still prevails in certain parts of India.
Today, it’s more than ever imperative to reinforce this message of Raksha Bandhan to protect women’s honour. We have been witnessing more and more women falling prey to the lust of men. Today, most women feel unsafe and insecure even at home. Raksha Bandhan is undoubtly the only bondage that truly frees us from all insecurities, fear and sorrow. Let us therefore spread the true message of Raksha Bandhan and vow to imbibe pure attitude and respectful behaviour towards all womenfolk as today, many centuries later, the woman is still being considered as an object of sexual gratification and subject to man. The celebration of Raksha Bandhan can help us remember that God created man and woman as equal and complimentary partners and so a woman has every right for respect and dignity.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)