The name ‘Raksha Bandhan’ suggests ‘a bond of protection’. On this auspicious day, brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles. Sisters pray to God for the protection of their brothers from evil and for their wellbeing and health. The festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the Shravan Purnima, generally falling in August month.
This is primarily observed in India, Mauritius and parts of Nepal, where this day is observed as Janai Purnima. Janai is considered a Vedic ritual and it has to be changed every year on Shravani Purnima, a day to pay homage to Lord Shiva.
Raksha Bandhan is an ancient festival and has many historic legends and myths attached to it. The Rajput queens practiced the custom of sending Rakhi threads to neighboring rulers as a token of brotherhood. Another most popular legend is of Krishna and Draupadi. Krishna considered Draupadi as his sister. When he cut his finger while killing Shishupal, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna expressed that with this loving act, she has wrapped him in debt and he would repay each “thread” when the time arrives. And, indeed, he fulfilled his promise to Draupadi, when she needed and provided unlimited cloth, during the ‘chir-haran’ following the ‘dwutkrida’. The epic Mahabharata also has a mention of Kunti tying Rakhi, as protection, to her grandson Abhimanyu, before the Great War.
As per another legendry narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, Roxana, his wife, sent a sacred thread to King Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with the tradition, King Porus gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow on Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander.
Raksha Bandhan is being celebrated in the same way with the same tradition for many years, as a day to celebrate the sacred relation of brother and sister. History has witnessed examples where Rakhi or raksha -protection has been tied by wife, a daughter or a mother. The Rishis tied Rakhi to the people who came seeking their blessings. In present days, the meaning has become broder, whereby people tie Rakhi to their neighbors and close friends to signify peaceful co-existence. Rakhi Utsav was first popularized by Rabindranath Tagore to promote the feeling of unity and a commitment to all sections of society to protect each other and promote a harmonious social life.