Thursday, August 2, 2012

Raksha Bandhan

                   August 2 is Raksha Bandhan,the festival celebrates the bond between a brother and a sister.Raksha Bandhan is a popular festival in India, especially North India. The festival depicts the love of brothers and sisters. On this day sisters tie a thread called 'Rakhi' around her brother's wrist. She prays to God for the safety of her brother and to lead him to good path.The brother in return gives her sweets and blesses her with good wishes. The festival should not be celebrated as a formality but should be celebrated whole heartedly.
          The festival is held on Shravan Purnima, or the full moon day of the month of Shravan. When a brother arrives at his sister's house (presuming she is married), she greets him by performing an aarti for him and applying a tika on his forehead by using kumkum. The puja thali she holds in her hand consists of roli, tilak, rakhi thread, a small heap of rice grains and sweets. As she ties the rakhi on her brother's wrist, she recites:
      "Suraj shakhan chhodian, mooli chhodia beej, behen ne rakhi bandhi /bhai tu chir jug jee"

(Meaning: The sun radiates its sunlight, the radish spreads its seeds, I tie the rakhi to you O brother and wish that may you live long.)
The mantras recited during rakhi may differ from place to place but the theme is the same.

                 There are some who trace the tradition to Alexander the Great, who invaded India in 326 BC. His wife Roxana apparently sent a sacred thread to Puru, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Puru, a Katoch king, gave full respect to the thead, or rakhi. On the battlefield, when he was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he allegedly looked at the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself.

                      There is another legend associated with rakhi. Apparently, in the 16th century, Queen Karnavati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun when she required his help.
                         The symbolism of a simple thread to drive home a message was not lost on famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who apparently composed a poem called ''Rakhi'' in 1905 and marched through Calcutta with freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh, tying rakhis on people's hands with a prayer for keeping Bengal unified.

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