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History of Raksha Bandhan


Love Raksha Bandhan? Find out about how it started and when the celebration of the festival began in this section that covers the History of Raksha Bandhan, popularly known as Rakhi.

Raksha Bandhan, like most other Indian festivals, finds its roots in the Hindu religious texts and mythological epics. Though the exact date or year about when the festival started is not known, there are many real as well as mythological stories that are credited for making the festival as important as it is today and can aptly be called its ‘history’.

Historically, wives used to tie a thread of protection on their husband’s wrist but this practice changed to sisters tying the thread of Rakhi on their brother’s wrist over time. The practice of a wife tying a thread of protection on her husband’s wrist finds its roots in a Hindu mythological tale of Lord Indra and his wife Indrani. It is believed that the deities and the demons were fighting a battle once on the day of Shravan Poornima (full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravan). The demons were in a winning position when compared to the deities. The king of the deities, Lord Indra, was quite worried on seeing this. His wife, Indrani prayed to God to help her husband and tied a thread (also called a talisman) around his right wrist to wish him good luck and help the deities win. The talisman would offer him protection too. After she did this, the tide turned in favor of the deities in the battle and they eventually won over the demons. The practice of wives tying a thread on their husband’s wrist that brought protection as well as good luck to the latter got established in this manner. The ceremony became popular as Raksha Bandhan and since the day Indrani tied it on Lord Indra’s wrist happened to be Shravan Poornima, Raksha Bandhan came to be celebrated on the day of Shravan Poornima every year.

Some people believe a tale from the Mahabharata, connected to the tale about Lord Indra and his wife, Indrani (also known as Shachee Devi, at times) is responsible for the setting up of the festival of Raksha Bandhan. According to the Mahabharata, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, the righteous Yudhishtra once asked Lord Krishna how he could protect himself from problems and disasters in the year ahead. Lord Krishna advised him to practice the ceremony of Rakshaa. He narrated the story of Lord Indra and how his wife practiced the ceremony of Rakshaa to ensure his protection. Yudhisthra was impressed with the story and practiced the ceremony to ensure that he remained protected from problems and bad luck in the future year.

Historically speaking, it is believed that the Aryans practiced the ceremony of conducting yagnas (a ritual performed to invoke the Gods and seek their blessings) before going for fighting wars. Through yagnas, they sought protection through God’s blessings. Their wives tied a sacred thread on their wrist during these yagnas to protect them from harm and bring them victory in war. Again, we see that historically, the thread of protection was tied by the wife on the husband’s wrist. Over time, this practice transformed into sisters tying a thread on their brother’s wrist to bring them good luck and blessings on the festival of Raksha Bandhan.

In current times, we strictly know Raksha Bandhan as a festival that celebrates the bond between a brother and a sister but historically we see that, that was not the only relationship the festival was associated with.

Besides the various religious and mythological tales related to the history of Raksha Bandhan, there is a real-life historical incident that is associated with the history of the festival as well. The great poet, philosopher and writer, Rabindranath Tagore celebrated Raksha Bandhan in Bengal to bridge the growing divide between Hindus and Muslims. He could understand what the British were trying to do by creating misunderstanding between the two communities and he wanted to do the exact opposite by uniting them in a spirit of unity and brotherhood so the partition of Bengal could be avoided. Since Raksha Bandhan celebrates brotherhood, he celebrated it as a community festival so a spirit of communal harmony, unity and brotherhood could be created as well as established. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in Bengal every year thanks to the initiative taken by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905.

The current nature of the festival and its celebration has acquired its various meanings and associations from several incidents and tales from the past. It is essentially a festival that revolves around the protective instinct that human beings (and many other mammals) have of protecting their loved ones from harm. Sisters pray for their brother’s well-being while brothers vow to protect their sisters for life.

Celebrate this beautiful festival of love and care with Gujaratgifts.com that has a dedicated section of Raksha Bandhan Gifts and thalis. Not only can brothers order attractive gifts for their sisters, sisters too can order traditional Rakhi Gifts that come with all the items that are required for the ceremony during the festival. From Sandalwood Rakhis to Golden and Silver plated Rakhis, the attractive range of Rakhis on the portal is quite comprehensive. Celebrate Raksha Bandhan in style with online gifts from Gujaratgifts.com!

Most Indian festivals have an important background that give it significance. Although there are modifications in the practices and celebrations which evolve over the years, there is still a very strong connection which can be made to its roots. It is the ancient relevance and the ability to connect with the past which makes every festival in India be celebrated with reverence, sincerity and dedication as much as with fun and joy. This is not something that you will find on just one particular occasion, but something that is common to every celebration and festival in India.

For the uninitiated, the festival of Raksha Bandhan, popularly known as Rakhi, came into being nearly 6000 years back, with the creation of Indus Valley Civilization. But as in the case of other festivals, there are many historical and mythological legends attached to the festival. Here we present a few extraordinary legends behind the festival. This is something that makes Rakhi truly magical. This is not a festival which has gained popularity merely for its tradition, but also for its rooted symbolisms which have been evolved from the early ages.

The phenomenon of Raksha Bandhan draws inspiration from historic and mythological legends equally. Here is why Raksha Bandhan has enjoyed importance over the centuries.

Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun

During the medieval times, it was a very well known fact that Muslim invaders attacked Rajput Kingdoms and even kidnapped their women.

When king of Gujarat Bahadur Shah attacked Chittor, the widowed queen Karnavati of this princely state beckoned Mughal emperor Humayun help by sending a bejeweled rakhi. Humayun obliged and immediately rushed his forces to his sister’s aid. Unfortunately, by the time the troops reached Chittor, the queen and thousands of other women had already committed Sati to save their honors.

Deep in sorrow the disheartened Humayun is said to have applied a pinch of ash from Karmawati's pyre on his forehead as a mark of affection and respect for the dead queen.

Although a story with a tragic end, this still shows a promise that gives every sister hope and faith in her brother and the bond that they share.

Alexander The Great and King Puru

Lore has it that when Alexander of Macedonia invaded Indian sub-continent in 300 B.C., he faced a tough opponent in the form of King Puru –the ruler of western India. The battle was so demoralizing for Alexander that finally his beloved had to do something about it. She sought an audience with King Puru and at once tied Rakhi to him. Puru in a brotherly gesture decided not to harm Alexander.

These are just some of the lessons from history that will make you find Raksha Bandhan more compelling. Mythological references to this festival are just as profound, and sure to make your faith in the celebration stronger.

Lord Krishna and Draupathi

To protect righteous people, the benevolent Lord Krishna killed the evil King Shishupal. Krishna hurt himself in the process and was left with a bleeding finger. Draupathi, immediately tore her Saree and tied it around Krishna’s wrist. The Lord moved by Draupathi’s gesture promised to repay her debt in the future. A few years later when Kauravas tried to disrobe Draupathi, Krishna saved her honor with his divine powers.

The powers of Lord Krishna are immense, and to be able to repose the same faith that Draupadi had for Krishna in your brother only shows the potential that this festival has in being able to bring you all together.

King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi

King Mahabali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Overwhelmed by his deep devotion Lord Vishnu decides to take over the responsibilities of his Kingdom. However, for this, Vishnu had to leave his place in vaikuntam- much to the distress of Goddess Lakshmi - Lord Vishnu’s wife.  Lakshi not very happy with her husband’s decision, decides to take refuge in Bali’s Kingdom in order to get her husband back. Finally, on Shravana purnima, she manages to tie Rakhi on King Bali's wrist. Till then she hadn’t revealed herself to Bali. But on rakshabandhan Goddess Laxmi let know Bali of her reservations. The King was so touched by Laxmi and Vishnu’s goodwill that he begged Lord Vishnu to go back to vaikuntam. So this festival is also referred to as Baleva- Bali Raja's devotion to Lord Vishnu.

Yama and Yamuna

Yama and Yamuna add to the significance of Raksha Bandhan immensely. Yama gained immortality when his sister Yamuna tied him a rakhi. Completely taken in by the import of the gesture, Yama affirmed that anyone who stood by their promise to protect their sister when tied a rakhi would be blessed with life everlasting.

Such happenings over the centuries have strengthened the bonds of affection between brother and sister which in fact are reaffirmed every year on the day of Raksha Bandhan.

To bring to light the importance and magnitude of the festival of Raksha Bandhan, GujaratGifts.com has compiled a collection of the choicest Rakhi Gifts, including not just the conventional Rakhi Thalis and Raksha Bandhan gifts, but an array of exquisite selections that can articulate your emotions perfectly. These are not mere symbols of the festival, but also ways to help you reach out to your family, connect with them and also a means to get you all closer together. Enjoy the celebrations and strengthen the special bond forever.

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