Raksha Bandhan, a solemn pledge

Purushottam Sharma
Ours is the land on which every sunrise brings us celebrations and festivals. The people brim with enthusiasm and delightfulness. Raksha Bandhan is one such festival on which sisters tie ‘Rakhi’ on the wrist and put ‘Tilak’ (a sacred mark) on the forehead of their brothers. Raksha means protection and Bandhan means to bind. It is, therefore, a sacred pledge taken by the brother for the protection of his sister. While making this sacred, strong and silent pledge, sister prays for longevity and prosperity of her brother whereas brother undertakes to protect his sister in all situations and seeks grace of the Lord for her good health, happiness and honour. Not only they rejoice, but they exchange love and affection with gifts in token of their robust relationship.
Brothers at far distance are sent ‘Rakhi’ by their sisters. Defence services personnel guarding our borders are also reached by some social workers to tie ‘Rakhies’ to them to give them the feel of presence  of their sisters on this occasion. Love between brothers and sisters is so pure and sacred that even the celestial beings would love to observe it.
Practice prevailed among queens to send bracelets to neighbouring mighty kings to seek fraternity. Those who accepted were morally bound to save the honour of their sisters and also that of her whole family and rescue them in difficult circumstances.
In the year 1905, Gurudev Rabinder Nath Tagore led his family members and others in procession and tied ‘Rakhies’ on the wrists of both Hindus and Muslims to strengthen the bondage of fraternity and unity and to defeat the evil designs of the then rulers who  followed the policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ Gurudev Rabinder Nath Tagore had shed his mortal coils on Rakhi Poornima Day.
Theus, a concubine of Alexender  the Great, had sent Rakhi to Porus, the powerful king, and sought assurance from him that he will not kill Alexender.
‘Raksha-Bandhan’ festival falls on the full-moon day of Shrawana Poornima. It is believed that there was a long war between the Gods led by their King Indra and demons headed by Bali. Gods were defeated and their Heavenly Kingdom fell to demons. Sachi, Indra’s consort, propitiated Lord Shiva for the restoration of her husband’s lost kingdom. Pleased Lord gave her an amulet to be tied around the wrist of her husband before taking the field against Demon King Bali. This was done and the lost kingdom was restored. This is said to be the origin of Raksha-Bandhan.
Some sisters make brothers by the word of mouth and vice versa and establish a bridge of bondage through the instrument of Rakhi and it has proved to be a very successful venture. Such a relationship goes a long way in ensuring the emotional well-being of those who long for a sister and for those who have no brother. This way, the ripples of mutual love and good-will widely spread not only among the families in particular but in the society at large.
There is also a tradition of ‘Kul Purohit’ (family Brahmin) tying the sacred ‘Mouli’ on the wrist of his’Yajmans’ and the doors of their houses wishing them all the auspiciousness and protection from evils. Even some of the precious possessions are treated in this manner to keep off ill-effects.
The festival is also celebrated in some parts of the country as the festival of cultivating virtues and shedding vices by observing the austerities. The grace of Lord Shiva is sought through Shiva Linga Pooja during the month of Shravan which culminates on the auspicious day of Rakhi Poornima.
On the Raksha Bandhan Poornima ‘Darshan’ of Shiva Lingam formed of ice at the Holy Shrine of Shri Amarnath is believed to be the most auspicious.
‘Rakhi’ has gone a long way in turning itself from a simple and frail ‘Mouli’ to many attractive varieties available in the market.
(The author is a former Captain)