Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi as it is called is the celebration of the pure bond that exists between a brother and sister. Celebrated in India and across the world every year, Raksha Bandhan is a promise made by the siblings to protect and cherish the unbreakable bond they share. The conditional love provided by the siblings is celebrated during this day.
The name Raksha Bandhan is made of the words “Raksha” and “Bandhan” and these mean protection and bond. During this festival, the sister ties a thread on the wrist of her brother which is the knot of protection. The festival is celebrated by all those who have a sibling bond, and even by those who do not share a blood relationship.
Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the day of the full moon during the Sharavana month of the Hindu calendar. The festival which is celebrated every year will be celebrated on Sunday, 22nd August in 2021. Also, there is an auspicious time during which the ritual is to be carried out, and this year it is between 6:15 AM to 5:31 PM on 22nd August 2021.
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated mostly in the western and the northern parts of India by Hindus and is also celebrated in various other states and countries. In the Jain community, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated where the devotees are given the ceremonial threads as a blessing. The festival is also celebrated by the Sikh community, where the sibling bond is celebrated in the name of Rakhari or “Rakhardi.”
The festival is said to have been celebrated centuries ago, and we can find various stories in Indian mythology related to the same. A few such stories from Hindu mythology are mentioned below.
Sachi and Indra Dev
As per the Bhavishya Purana, there was once a very fierce battle between the demons and the gods. During this, the deity of the rains and sky, Lord Indra was on the god’s side and was facing a lot of resistance from King Bali. The war between the gods and demons went on for a long time, and the end did not seem near. By seeing this, Sachi, the wife of Lord Indra went to God Vishnu and received a sacred thread from him. She tied the thread around the wrist of her husband who then defeated King Bali and the demons and was able to recover Amaravati. Such a scared thread was also tied by the wife on the husband’s wrist when they left for the war.
Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali
This story too is related to Bhagavata Purana. As per the Vishnu Purana, Lord Vishnu won the war against King Bali and won the three worlds. As per mythology, the demon king asked Lord Vishnu to stay in this palace. The lord did accept the request but Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wanted him to return to Vaikuntha. She then tied a sacred thread on the wrist of King Bali and made him her brother. When he asked what she wanted as a return gift, she asked the demon king to let Lord Vishnu return back to Vaikuntha. Bali kept his promise and Lord Vishnu returned back to Vaikhunta along with Goddess Lakshmi.
Another story of Hindu mythology says that Lord Ganesha’s sons, Subh and Labh were sad that they did not have a sister. They then asked Lord Ganesha for a sister, and he agreed after Saint Narada intervened. This is how Lord Ganesha created the goddess Santoshi Maa through divine flames. The two sons of Lord Ganesha thus got a sister on the day of Raksha Bandhan.
Draupadi and Lord Krishna
You can read in the Mahabharata that Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas tied Rakhi to God Krishna and Kunti too tied a Rakhi to Abhimanyu who happens to her grandson before they left for the war.
Yamuna and Yama
As per another legend, the Lord of the death Yama did not visit his sister for 12 years. Yamuna then become sad. Lord Yama upon the suggestion of Ganga went to meet his sister, who was very happy, and performed a ritual to welcome her brother. Yama was happy and asked his sister what she wanted as a gift. She then expressed that she wishes to see her brother often. Lord Yama promised his sister that he would see her again and this made Yamuna immortal. This story is also the basis of the “Bhai Dooj,” festival, which too is based on the relationship of a brother and sister.
Raksha Bandhan is a day that signifies the duty of both brother and sister. Both men and women celebrate the brother-sister relationship even when they are not related biologically. The sister ties the Raksha Bandhan around her brother’s wrist and prays for his well-being and prosperity. The brother shows her gifts and promises to protect her always.