Raksha Bandhan means pure bond of love between a brother and his sister and a pledge of protection. It symbolises sincere and lofty human emotions. Tying a sacred thread around the wrist of her brother is an expression of sisterly love and sublime sentiments, and is rightly called ‘Rakhi’.
As Rakhi is also tied on the wrists of friends and neighbours, it emphasises the need for an amicable social life, where every human being co-exists calmly as brother or sister. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore popularised in Shantiniketan such a society of neighbours to defend each other.
Tagore’s dream of celebration of Raksha Bandhan was visionary. As he said, Rakhi is not and cannot be merely a celebration of siblings but a festival of society and of humanity at large.
He encouraged the thought of unity and harmony among all. He felt that it is the duty of all the members of a society to promote a harmonious social life and live a peaceful and happy life together.
For him, this festival was the celebration of the expression of equality, fellow-feeling and concern for each other. In today’s framework, Tagore’s vision is very pertinent as it teaches us to think and care for others. The story behind this festival dates back to the year 1905 when the British Empire determined to separate Bengal on the basis of class, caste and religion.
Just then, Tagore organised a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to fortify the bond of love and togetherness between the Hindus and the Muslims of Bengal and jointly fight against the British Empire. He used the platform of this festival to preach the feeling of brotherhood and neighbourhood.
“If we can believe beyond our faith, religion and caste, then we can become true human beings”, Tagore had said. To spread this note of love, he considered Raksha Bandhan to be the most perfect day.