Raksha Bandhan | रक्षा बंधन :
Raksha Bandhan falls on the full – moon day (Purnima) of the month of Sravana (July – August). Therefore it is also called Rakhi Purnima. The main celebrations of Rakhi Purnima takes different forms in different region. Raksha Bandhan | रक्षा बंधन
In the West, the festival is called Nardi Purnima or Coconut Full Moon. To the Hindus, the coconut is of great religious significance. The three eyes of the coconut represent the three eyes of the Lord Shiva. The coconut plays a significant role in Hindu Festivals. Coconuts are offered to the God of Water in the presence of a huge congregation on the beach at Bombay. Raksha Bandhan | रक्षा बंधन
The festival is also called Saluno, a deviation from the Persian word ‘Sal – i – nu’ which means the New Year. This ritual strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters. Rakhi is also tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbours. Women tie a Rakhi (rosette) around the right wrist of their brothers. If the brother is in a distant place the Rakhi may be sent by post. Women receive gifts and cash from brothers. Raksha Bandhan | रक्षा बंधन
Raksha Bandhan has a historical background. About 3000 B.C. Aryans entered India through the North – Western passes and settled in North – Western India. They brought with them their traditional custom, Raksha Bandhan. It was a tradition among the Aryans to have a ‘Yajna’ before a war to invoke God’s blessing for protection and security. Apart from the regular army, Raksha Bandhan | रक्षा बंधन the clan leader called the able – bodied men of the villages to join the war. Before the men departed for the battle field the women – folk tied an anointed sacred thread or amulet : i) to protect the man ii) to remind him to uphold the honour of his clan. This is how the custom of Raksha Bandhan originated. The word ‘Raksha’ means protection. Later, different ethnic tribes entered India, each with its own traditional customs. This led to a fusion of Aryan and Non – Aryan customs. Consequently new and modified forms of the various customs came to be. The same happened with Raksha Bandhan.
In the Middle Ages, especially in Rajasthan, it was practised both for imperial alliance and matrimonial alliance. We get innumerable examples of offering Rakhi for such alliances in Todd’s Annals of Rajasthan’. Marwar was attacked by the Sultan of Malwah. Queen. Karna Devi, the dowager queen of Marwar sent a Rakhi to the Moghul Emperor Humayun, to accept her as his sister and to come to her aid. Humayun responded to her gesture. He drove the Sultan of Malwah away from Marwar and saved the queen. That particular day of Purnima was celebrated as Raksha Bandhan in Marwar and then all over Rajasthan and, finally, throughout India.
Gradually a deeper religious aspect entered this festival. Of the three Hindu Gods -Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar, the Vishnu cult is said to have been derived from the Aryans. This cult was the most popular of the three, specially because Vishnu represented peace and stability. A variety of regional literature and practices developed around the Vishnu cult. Raksha Bandhan stood for security, stability and fraternity. It was associated with the cult of universal love and brotherhood. In the North and West of India, Raksha Bandhan became a regular feature of society. It celebrated love and brotherhood along with the customary celebration of the divine activities of Radha and Krishna. | रक्षा बंधन
Raksha Bandhan was not prevalent in Eastern India. In 1905, Curzon partitioned Bengal on communal lines. A great movement was initiated to oppose the partition. Rabindranath Tagore was one of the prominent figures who vehemently opposed this atrocious partition. In 1905, he introduced the custom of Raksha Bandhan among the Hindus and Muslims of Bengal to nurture an atmosphere of universal brotherhood. This custom became so popular that it spread to every corner of Bengal. It took a very different connotation in Bengal and became a symbol for forging unity between Hindus and Muslims. It also helped to arouse national consciousness against the divide – and – rule policy of the British. Such was the force of the protest that in 1911, the partition of Bengal was annulled. The capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.
Raksha Bandhan has unfortunately degenerated into a cheap, commercial practice where the very essence of Raksha Bandhan is absent and unknown. Sadly, the idea with which it was started – which was to foster love, friendship and universal brotherhood among all communities – is now relegated to the past.
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