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Raksha Bandhan, Its Essence And Significance

Raksha Bandhan is one of the widely celebrated Indian festivals. The term 'Raksha' means 'protection' and 'Bandhan' means, 'bond'. The underlying essence of the Hindu ideals of love and harmony is portrayed in all the festivals which are reminders of the oneness in all beings.

Legends

There are numerous legends associated with Raksha Bandhan. Though with time it has come to practice that Raksha Bandhan is observed for brotherly and sisterly affection, in the earlier days it was for all relationships at large. It was tied by wives, daughters, mothers and Rishis as well to people who approached them for protection.

As per the popular legend, Indra sought the advice of Brihaspati or Guru to vanquish the demons when he almost lost the battle with them. Guru Brihaspati and Indrani his wife tied a sacred thread around his wrist on the auspicious Shravan Poornima day, after which he emerged victorious in the war. Hence Raksha Bandhan came to be celebrated on the Shravan Poornima day.

An episode from the Mahabharata also is associated with Raksha Bandhan. Draupati tore her silk sari and tied it around the bleeding finger of Lord Krishna, who got hurt in the process of slaying the evil 'Sari'. Lord Krishna's grace in averting the disgrace to Draupati getting disrobed by the Kauravas explains his compassion owing to her brotherly affection for Him.

Raksha Bandhan could also have had its source in the legend associated with King Bali. Lord Vishnu, pleased with the devotion of Bali, left Vaikunta to safe guard his devotee's kingdom. Goddess Lakshmi unable to suffer the pangs of separation from her Lord, disguised herself as a Brahmin woman and stayed in the palace of King Bali, tying a thread around his wrist, symbolising her brotherly affection for him. King Bali moved by the Lord's compassion, sent him back to Vaikunta with Lakshmi owing to the sisterly affection for her that blossomed from the tying of Rakhi.

Raksha Bandhan Celebration

Raksha Bandhan which is observed on Shravan Poornima day, in the month of August, now celebrates the brotherly and sisterly relationship across the country, irrespective of confining it to celebrate among blood related siblings. It has thus become a social celebration now crossing the barriers of religion, caste and creed.

It is a physical representation of the emotional binding of siblings. Sisters tie the thread of Rakhi around the wrist of their brothers seeking their love and protection. Brothers in turn give gifts to their sisters as a mark of authenticating their affection and protection amidst festivities and celebrations.

The Essence and Significance of Raksha Bandhan

The celebration of Rakha Bandhan has its origin in religion and stretches further beyond its boundaries for a broader view of universal brotherhood which paves way for universal oneness.

Love is the underlying essence of every religion. Unconditional love for all beings can be realised when one understands his true self, the spiritual self or the 'Atman' which is the same in all beings and which stretches beyond all seeming disparities.

Raksha Bandhan stands as the foremost among all festivals, celebrating unconditional love and universal harmony. Spiritual oneness, the ultimate end of observing rituals and festivals is thus recognised by the observance of Raksha Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan thus serves as a reminder of our true nature, the real self which is lost in the apparent differences. So let us observe the rituals of the festival and celebrate it keeping in mind its essence, its true spiritual import.

Story first published: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 12:23 [IST]
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