Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi , personally one of my favourite Indian festivals. It makes me all nostalgic ,remembering my childhood days. They say to experience the beauty of certain things , you need to experience them personally . This holds true for this beautiful bond. You need to have that beautiful relationship to share (whether biological or made by choice) to experience this beautiful bond of brother and sister. I don’t think there is any other culture in the world that celebrates this beautiful bond.
I have been lucky enough to be blessed to celebrate this beautiful relationship year after year. To this day I remember the first time I got to celebrate this festival. My little heart was full of joy and excitement. When I realized that I will be getting a sibling soon..I remember singing the song “kali re kali re tu to kali kali hai, gora sa ek bhayia maa dilane wali hai , laane wali hai ” . I used to sing it so often, I still remember one of our neighbouring aunt who was expecting around the same time too..her hubby called me and recorded my song in their tape recorder :-). I remembered the whole song. So lucky I was that I was blessed with a baby brother exactly 6 days before rakhi. That year rakhi was on 4th august. I remember getting mehendi done on my tiny little palms by my masi. I woke up so early to see the color of my mehendi and then getting the mustard oil and heat massage on my palm from my dad to get the color of mehendi dark :-). I still remeber the first rakhi I got and tied on those chubby lttle wrists. It was a small silver rakhi. I wonder where it is now, if its still safe with my mom. I need to ask her. I still remember cuddling him tight, holding him on my lap and covering him and myself both in a warm shawl in the cold winter days. We fought ,we loved , we argued with each other , we defended each other.We fought for the same pen,pencil but when time required we shared our savings for each other.
Coming back to the festival Raksha Bandhan : combination of two words “Raksha” meaning “Protection” , “bandhan” meaning “Bond”. Hence, raksha bandhan is also called Bond of Protection. The sister ties the raksha thread on the brother’s wrist wishing for his long life , success ,protection from all evils and in return the brother promises safety and security of his sister.
You will find many historical stories on raksha bandhan/rakhi. I won’t go in to the details of that but will shed light on how rakhi was celebrated in vedic culture.During that time it was not limited to the bond of brother and sister, there are example Lord Krishna’s mom tying the Raksha sutra to Krishna. A guru tying raksha sutra to his disciples etc.
At that time Rakhi was made of below given following 5 items tied together in a small silk cloth and then the cloth along with the sacred thread called Mauli or kalwa is tied on the wrist of an individual.
1) Durva ( a type of grass) : Durva the sanskrit word for Bermuda grass is considered sacred. While Tulsi is considered sacred to krishna , durva is considered sacred for Lord Ganesha. Significance: The way bermuda grass grows quicky and spreads around faster and a single seed of it can propagate in to thousands of seeds similarly its wished that your family line flourishes and prospers. The way the “Durva” grass spreads quickly similarly I wish your good qualities and fame spread in all directions.Since the Durva is sacred to Lord Ganesha (the god of removal of all obstacles) may he remove all the obstacles from your life.
2)Akshat (The whole grain rice mixed with turmeric).Akshat means the one thats is not broken, akshat in Pooja rituals is referred to the whole grains of rice mixed with turmeric.Just like Akshat may you remain unharmed.
3)Kesar(Saffron) : Saffron is strong in nature . It assimilates and brings its properties in to milk/water whatever it is added to.May you be as lusturous as saffron and may with your good qualities inculcate the same goodness in everyone around you.
4)Chandan(Sandal): The basic quality of sandal is to provide fragrance and provide coolness and freshness.Just like sandal may there be calmness in your life and may your good qualities spread around just like the fragrance of sandal.
5)Sarson ke daane(Mustard seeds) ; Mustard seeds are tiny but they are strong in flavor. May you become as strong as to be able to remove all the problems of society.
The Resham or silk thread has got its own significance, its lusturous, it provides warmth and even though its very fine, it is very strong.Hence Rakhi’s were mostly made of silk thread, signifying the love and warmth and the strong bond shared by the two individuals.With the marketing bursts and companies trying to come up with new ideas the rakhi’s are undergoing lots of changes, but a simple resham rakhi is still the best per me 🙂
.Its believed that the first rakhi was tied to King Bali by goddess Lakshmi.The Shlok generally recited during tying rakhi (also called Raksha sutra is )
The meaning of Raksha Mantra is as following –
“I tie you with the same Raksha thread which tied the most powerful, the king of courage, the king of demons, Bali. O Raksha (Raksha Sutra), please don’t move and keep fixed throughout the year
It has alreday been a long post hence I might some day post the story related to raksha sutra some other day .
One thing is change has to be part of customs in order for them to be carried on for generations, Olden times families used to be large hence more or less all were fortunate to be blessed with sibling bonds of brothers and sisters. With time the families becoming smaller in size and going nuclear way, it is must that we do not limit this festival as a bond between just brothers and sisters but celebrate it more as BOND OF PROTECTION and LOVE between SIBLINGS.
May all the siblings in world admire,love and respect each other. May they appreciate the beautiful bond in which the almighty has tied them and value it .
Best wishes to all.