On Raksha Bandhan today, NITA AGARWAL reveals fascinating scriptural aspects of the festival, while explaining the significance of Rakhi, the sacred thread

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated every year on the full moon day or Purnima of the Shravan month, which generally falls in the month of August. In India, family bonds have always been very strong and many of our festivals are celebrated to reinforce the bonds between various members of the family.

Raksha Bandhan manifests as a bond of protection. Generally, it is celebrated as a festival of promise by a brother to protect his sister, when she ties the sacred thread, known as Rakhi on the wrist of her brother. At the same time, by the sacred thread, the sister protects the brother from the evil eye and ensures his well being.

In our scriptures, we find many stories related to Raksha Bandhan by many gods and goddesses. Most popular is the incident of Draupadi tearing her saree pallu to stop the blood oozing from the finger of Lord Krishna, when He used His Sudarshan Chakra to kill Sishupal. Lord Krishna was so moved by this gesture that he promised to always protect Draupadi. 

Nita Agarwal

There is also a story of Yami, twin sister of Yama, the Lord of death, tying the sacred thread on the wrist of Yama to protect him from the curse of his stepmother Chaya. 

Then there is another story of Goddess Laxmi disguising herself as an ordinary Brahmin woman, tying the sacred thread on the day of Shravan Purnima on the wrist of King Bali. It is said that King Bali as an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, in a boon had asked Lord Vishnu to stay with him in Patallok. Goddess Laxmi was distressed with Lord Vishnu living in Patallok; so she disguised herself as a poor Brahmin woman and reached the palace of King Bali.

He was known for being large-hearted. It is said that Goddess Laxmi tied the thread of protection to the wrist of King Bali and asked him to fulfil her wish as an elder brother. As the duty of an elder brother is to look after the needs of his sister, King Bali allowed Lord Vishnu to return to Vaikunt. The following Raksha Mantra is chanted: 

येन भादो बली राजा दानवेन्द्रो महाबलः |
तेन त्वानामिभाद्नामी त्वामाभिबध्नामी रक्षे माचल माचल ||

“I am tying this Raksha Bandhan to you that was tied to the Demon King Bali. Oh rakshaa please do not move and waver.”

This thread is also tied to companions to protect them from evil demons as we see that even Indrani, companion of Lord Indra tied this thread on his wrist  to protect him from evil demons.

Lord Krishna and Draupadi (Pic Courtesy: Krishnabhumi.in)

India is known as the land of unity in diversity. Very often, we find the same auspicious day is celebrated in different parts of India for different reasons. 

On this day, Brahmins who wear the sacred thread called Janeu across their chest change the thread with the promise to continue with the study of scriptures and follow the Brahmin way of living. This ceremony is called Avani Avatam in Tamil Nadu. In coastal areas, fishermen offer naryal or coconut to ocean waters on this Purnima to seek blessings for a good sea trade and call it Naryal Purnima. 

In many parts of central and northern India, the festival is also known as Kajri Purnima, where farmers and mothers worship Goddess Bhagwati for good crops and the welfare of their sons. On this auspicious Shravan Purnima, the Amarnath yatra comes to an end. Devotees of Lord Shiva put threads made of panchgavya on the Shivalinga. 

Of course, most popularly this festival is known for sisters tying the sacred thread on the wrists of their brothers to protect them from evil and in return, brothers promise to look after the welfare of their sisters forever. Sisters seeking gifts and money in return from brothers after tying the rakhi is the fun part of this festival that came into practice with the passage of time. 

Happy Raksha Bandhan to all, dear friends. Have a fun-filled family celebration! 

Nita Agarwal is an ex-Table Tennis State player, qualified teacher, self-taught budding painter, a successful blogger, who writes about her observations of life and people; and most importantly, a working housewife. 

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(Featured Image Courtesy: Navbharat Times)