Raksha Bandhan 2016 :: Why Rakhi is Celebrated?

Raksha Bandhan 2016, rakhi 2016, rakhi, history of raksha bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is one of the most important festival of Hindus. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Śrāvaṇa, and typically falls in August every year. The Festival is also observed by Jains as a religious festival. Rakhi is also popularly used to celebrate any brother-sister relationship between men and women who are relatives or biologically unrelated.

On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her.

Accordingly, some Muslims in India view it a secular, multicultural festival, including the Ismaili community, and was observed in Mughal palaces. Raksha bandhan has been adopted by the Christian community who view it as a festival of historical and social importance, and is also traditionally observed as a secular festival by Sikhs, which involves the tying of the rakhi and giving of gifts. The secular aspect of the festival concentrates on the female tying a Rakhi on a male who in turn gives a gift.The religious features of aarti and applying the tilak are not observed.

Historical references
The multicultural aspects of Raksha Bandhan can be gleaned from history dating back thousands of years. It has many myths and historic legends linked to it. For example, the Rajput queens practised the custom of sending rakhi threads to neighbouring rulers as a token of brotherhood.

Alexander the Great and King Puru
According to one legendary narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, the king of Kaikeya kingdom, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.

See Also : Raksha Bandhan Images | Raksha Bandhan Wishes for Brother | Raksha Bandhan Wishes for Sister

Rani Karnavati and Emperor HumayunAnother controversial historical account is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani's fortress. Although contemporary commentators and memoirs do not mention the Rakhi episode and some historians have expressed skepticism about it, it is mentioned in one mid-seventeenth century Rajasthani account.

Rabindranath Tagore and Rakhi
Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, invoked Raksha Bandhan and Rakhi, as concepts to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims during India's colonial era. In 1905, the British empire divided Bengal, a province of British India on the basis of religion. Rabindra Nath Tagore arranged a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, and urge them to together protest the British empire. He used the idea of Raksha Bandhan to spread the feeling of brotherhood. In 1911, British colonial empire reversed the partition and unified Bengal, a unification that was opposed by Muslims of Bengal. Ultimately, Tagore's Raksha Bandhan-based appeals were unsuccessful. Bengal not only was split during the colonial era, one part became modern Bangladesh and predominantly Muslim country, the other a largely Hindu Indian state of West Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore started Rakhi Mahotsavas as a symbol of Bengal unity, and as a larger community festival of harmony. In parts of West Bengal, his tradition continues as people tie Rakhis to their neighbors and close friends.

One of Tagore's poem invoking Rakhi is:

The love in my body and heart
For the earth's shadow and light
Has stayed over years.

With its cares and its hope it has thrown
A language of its own
Into blue skies.

It lives in my joys and glooms
In the spring night's buds and blooms
Like a Rakhi-band
On the Future's hand.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the ruler of the Sikh Empire who actively encouraged inter-faith communication. Accordingly, he observed Raksha Bandhan and his wife Maharani Jindan, reinforced the harmony between the Sikh Empire and Nepal through the Rakhi festival. The bond was honored when Maharani Jindan was given refuge by Jang Bahadur of Nepal in 1849 after the collapse of the Sikh Empire and annexation of its territories by the British. Accordingly, the festival is celebrated across many faiths in the Punjab.

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