Also called Rakhi, Raksha Bandhan is one of the two Hindu festivals that celebrates the brother-sister ties. The tie of sibling love is recapitulated with the tying of Rakhi, a string that can be very elaborate and decorative or it can even be a very plain and simple thread. Rakhi falls on the full moon day of the holy month of shravan, the month of monsoons.
On this day, the sister ties Rakhi on her brother's wrist, does his aarti, offers him sweets and in turn, is given a gift by her brother. The significance here being that with the tying of Rakhi, the brother has the obligation of protecting the sister against any evil. Of course, in the modern world, the concept has moved away from that, but our Hindi movies certainly even today belabors the underlying concept with scenes where the brother fights the goons to protect his sister. The emotional aspect of the relationship is highlighted with songs like, Bhaiya mere, Rakhi ke Bandhan ko nibhana (brother dear, do honor the ties that we celebrate with Rakhi).
There are many stories in Indian history that bring forth the deep significance of the festival. It is said that Rani Karnavati of Chittor found herself to be in a tight spot in late 1500s when her fort was surrounded by the enemy army led by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. There was not much hope of winning the war. In despair, the queen sent a Rakhi to the mogul king, Humayun. Upon receiving the Rakhi, the king along with his army came to the defense of the queen. Unfortunately, he was too late. Rani had lost the battle and had committed jauhar (killing of self). But Bahadur Shah did flee from Chittor fearing Humayun's large army. Humayun thus honored the 'Rakhi ke Bandhan ko', forever linking their story to the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
In today's world when we don't really need that pledge of protection from our brothers in the literal sense, but the festival's essence of celebrating our relationship with them is certainly felt on the day. Of course, we know they'll always be there for us when we need them.
Wishing Every Brother & Sister A Very Happy Raksha Bandhan!
(By Sonal Kulshrestha)