Raksha Bandhan 2019: Significance, facts and history of the festival
The festival of Raksha Bandhan or the ‘bond of protection’ is all about the love brothers and sisters share. On this occasion, a girl or a woman puts a tilak on her brother’s forehead and ties a rakhi around his wrist in a ritual that reaffirms the bond and support of her brother(s).
In return, she receives a gift in cash or kind from her brother(s). This festival traditionally endows the siblings with a responsibility to care for her and be her saviour in times of need.
When a sister ties a rakhi around her brother’s wrist, he gives her his blessing and promises to protect her from all the problems in life.
History and significance of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravan.
During the Mahabharata, it is believed that Draupadi tied a rakhi on Krishna’s wrist when he had injured his finger while using his sudarshan chakra against the king Shishupalal. While Krishna’s hand was bleeding, Draupadi tore a piece from her sari and tied it around his hand. In return, Krishna vowed that he would always be there to protect Draupadi.
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore started a mass Raksha Bandhan festival during the Partition of Bengal (1905), in which he encouraged Hindu and Muslim women to tie a rakhi on men from the other community and make them their brothers. This was designed to counter British efforts to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims.
The best time to tie rakhi is said to be during Aparahna, which is normally during the afternoons. However, if that is not possible then it can be tied during the Pradosh time period (starts at sunset and lasts upto 96 minutes after that).
However, the scriptures say that tying the rakhi should not take place during the Bhadra phase (late evening and early morning) of the day since it is believed that during the Bhadra time, certain negative energies are at play.
One must have seen rudrakshas or pearls threaded in rakhis, mostly for design purposes. However the competitive and stressful environment has led to creation of health and education rakhis too. Health rakhis are capable of curing diseases such as diabetes and thyroid, since they contain citrine stone. Education rakhi can make children focus better on their studies. The semi-precious stones change the entire concept of the otherwise simple thread called rakhi. Over the years, rakhis have also adopted various themes like those containing popular animated character Chhota Bheem, Lord Krishna and Lord Ganesha. In 2019, both Queen Victoria and Chhota Bheem themed rakhis are the most popular trends.