Opinion Op Ed 18 Aug 2016 Mystic Mantra: The t ...
Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University

Mystic Mantra: The threads of love

Published Aug 18, 2016, 1:19 am IST
Updated Aug 18, 2016, 1:19 am IST
Rakhi is also tied on the wrists of soldiers since they are the true protectors of all.
School children tying rakhis on the wrists of BSF jawans during the celebrations of Raksha Bandhan festival at R S Pura in Jammu on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)
 School children tying rakhis on the wrists of BSF jawans during the celebrations of Raksha Bandhan festival at R S Pura in Jammu on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Lord Krishna once happened to have an injured hand, with blood oozing out from his finger. Rukmini, his wife, immediately sent her maid-servant to get a bandage while Draupadi simply tore off a part of her sari and bandaged his finger.

Lord Krishna said that with this loving act, she wrapped him in debt and he was obliged to repay each thread when the time arrives. He uttered the word “akshyam”, meaning “may it be unending”. Keeping his promise, Lord Krishna saved Draupadi from being disrobed by making her sari endless. She was duly protected and saved by Lord Krishna. This is one of the stories related to the origin of the festival of Raksha Bandhan. But it truly conveys the meaning and message of the festival.

 

Raksha Bandhan, also called Rakhi-Purnima, is basically a Hindu religious festival, which has shades of secular aspects as well.

It is an annual festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan — the tie of protection — is the occasion to remember and revive the pure bond of love and protection.

A rakhi may be a simple thread or the modern version can be in the form of a wrist-watch or a silver bangle, but symbolic value remains the same.

On the day of rakhi, which usually falls on the full moon in the month of Shravan, brothers and sisters get together to perform the ritual and celebrate the function.

 

Donning beautiful colourful dresses, sisters tie the rakhi on the wrists of their brothers and the ritual is performed in front of a diya or a lighted lamp. The sister offers a prayer for the good health and prosperity of the brother. One of the prayers is — “May the lord of all beings protect you, may the one who creates, preserves and dissolves life protect thee... May all negativity and fears, spirits malignant and unfriendly flee thee…” The sister offers sweets and the brother gives her a token gift in the form of money, dress or a piece of jewellery.

 

Raksha Bandhan is also known as punya-pradayak parva, the merit-giving festival and also as vishtodak parva, the vice eliminating festival. It is believed that the rakhi is a sacred thread and the one who wears it will be protected from snakes, demons and other evils. In Mumbai, the festival is known as Narial Purnima where coconuts are thrown into the river to propitiate the sea god. So traditionally, Raksha Bandhan is not only restricted to brother-sister ties.

Rakhi is also tied on the wrists of soldiers since they are the true protectors of all. Rabindranath Tagore had invoked Raksha Bandhan to inspire love and harmony between Hindus and Muslims. The need of the hour is to imbibe the values of this festival — love, protection and harmony — in our daily lives.

 

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