Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rakhi / Raksha Bandhan Hindu Festival

Rakshabandhan is one of the most important festivals of Hindus. This festival signifies the unbroken love between brother and sister. This festival is celebrated on full moon day of savan Hindu month. In this year 2009, it will be celebrated on 5th August.

The word "Rakshabandhan" stands for bonding someone for sprititual and physical security. That's why when a sister ties Rakhi knot, she says, "Brother! I have come to you; I hope you will protect me from all the evils."

On this auspicious day, sisters tie a sacred band called Rakhi on the wrists of their brothers and feed them sweets. In return, brothers give various gifts to their sisters. Draupadi, wife of Pandavas and daughter of king Drupad, used to consider lord Krishna her brother. Once Krishna's hand got wounded and it started bleeding badly. The moment Draupadi saw it, she torn a corner of her Sari and wrapped it on Krishna’s hand. Mythology says that Krishna conjured up bolts of clothes for Draupadi to repay the debt when Duhshasana tried to disrobe her.

There is another similar incident in history of India when Hindu queen of Chittor Karmawati sent Rakhi to emperor of Delhi Humayu. Humayu accepted it and fought the battle with king of Gujrat Bahadurshah for honor of the queen. The divine love and emotion between brothers and sisters are the soul of this festival. Hindus all over the world celebrate it on large scale.

On this day, sisters place paddy-ears on walls after taking bath and worship it with Kheer made of rice, sweets and vermicelli (sevai) etc. Bands of Rakhi are glued on these paddy-ears using kheer or sweets. Those women who bed wheat etc. on Naga Panchami put these tiny plants on place of worship, and hook them on the ears of their brothers after tying Rakhi.

Once the eldest of Pandavas, king Yudhishthir asked about it to Lord Krishna, "O Krishna! Please tell me the story of Rakshabandhan which eradicates all afflictions." Krishna replied, "Yudhishthira, once gods and demons fought a great battle for twelve consecutive years. King of gods, Indra, finally lost the battle. Gods became lackluster and Indra with other gods, after losing all the hopes of victory, went to Amaravati.

The king of demons won over all three worlds (loka). He pronounced banishment of Indra and banned yajna and sacrifices etc. Due to fear of demons, all good activities like yajna, practice of Vedas and divine celebrations etcetera stopped. King Indra could not tolerate it. He called the guru of gods, Brihaspati and told him, 'O Guru! I want to fight a final battle with these demons and I will keep fighting this time until I die. Destiny is most powerful of all. Let the inevitable take place.' First Brihaspati tried to calm him down. But seeing unflinching determination of Indra, he asked for divine ritual for protection. On the day of full moon of Shrawan month, this ritual was performed.

येनवद्धो बली राजा दानवेन्द्रो महाबलः।
तेन त्वाममिवध्नामि रक्षे माचल माचल॥

Brihaspati, the guru of gods, gave the divine protection to Lord Indra using this mantra. Indra, the conqueror of ancient demon Vritta, with his wife follow the order of Brihaspati and defeated demons to establish Dharma again."

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