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Raksha Bandhan History: Legends Behind Rakhi Purnima

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Purnima is celebrated as the day on which a sister ties a thread around her brother's wrist symbolizing her love and in return a brother promises to protect and take care of her throughout her life. While tying the Rakhi, the siblings recite;

“Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah 
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala”
In modern day we celebrate the occasion of Raksha bandhan very differently than what it was centuries ago. There’s more to this day that one needs to know, let’s take a look;

Legends Behind Raksha Bandhan

  1. Raksha Bandhan originated from ancient times when Indrani had tied a thread, which was given to her by Lord Vishnu, around her husband Lord Indra's wrist to protect him from demons during a war between the Gods (devatas) and demons (danavas).
  2. Another story is that the demons won the war and had captured heaven. Unhappy with his defeat, Lord Indra complained to Lord Brihaspati , who prepared a raksha sutra and gave it to him to wear it for his protection.
  3. This act of promising of protection was noted in the Mahabharat as well. It is said that once Lord Krishna had cut his finger and was bleeding quite a bit. On seeing this, Draupadi tore a piece of cloth from her sari and tied it around his finger to stop the bleeding. This is believed to be the only reason why Lord Krishna saved her during her cheerharan by the Kauravas.

  4. Rakhi also saved Alexander The Great's life. When he invaded India, his wife Roxana sent a rakhi to King Porus and in return he vowed to protect her and her husband. When they were on the battlefield he was about to kill Alexander when he saw the rakhi and stopped himself from killing him.
  5. The most important story of the dedication of a brother's promise is of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Humayun once visited Mewar with his troops, when Rani Karnavati, who ruled the region at the time, asked for his help. Her kingdom of Mewar had been attacked twice by Bahadur Shah and as her only hope she sent a letter with a Rakhi to Humayun asking him for his help. Humayun, who was between a military campaign at the time he received the letter, left everything to protect her.
  6. Another mythological story is that links the festival with demon king Bali and Goddess Lakshmi. According to the legends, Goddess Lashmi's husband Lord Vishnu was asked by demon king Bali to live in his palace, which she was against. So she tied a thread on Bali's wrist and made him her brother. When Bali asked her what she wanted in return for the Rakhi, she asked him to free her husband from staying in his palace, which he granted.
  7. According to another mythological legend, Rakhi was intended to worship the sea God Varuna. Hence, people offer coconuts to God Varuna, fairs at waterfronts and ceremonial bathing accompany this festival.
Rituals and festivals such as Raksha Bandhan undoubtedly help remove social strains, they induce feelings of coexistence, open up media and ways of expression, provide an opportunity to work on ourselves as human beings and, most importantly, bring happiness in our mundane lives.

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