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Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in India with the greatest vigor and enthusiasm. Most of us celebrate the joyous festival without knowing the history of Raksha Bandhan. There are many historical legends behind Rakhi Poornima. The story of Lord Krishna and Draupadi,  King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi, Rani Karnawati, and Emperor Humayun talk about the historical significance of Raksha Bandhan. This article not only talks about the historical significance of the festival but also talks about the scientific and spiritual significance of Rakhsha Bandhan. Going by spirituality, tying the Rakhi thread signifies the vow of purity taken by all souls. The scientific significance explains why Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the day of Poornima or full moon in the month of Shravana. It also discussed why the tilak is applied on the forehead and how it is connected to the pineal gland or the third eye. Besides, this article also talks about how Rabindranath Tagore used the Raksha Bandhan ceremony as a symbol of unity and brotherhood between the Hindus and Muslims during the partition of Bengal. Read to know more. 

Rakhi is one of the important festivals and is celebrated with a lot of pomp and splendor. It is an important festival commemorating the love between brother and sister. The day of Raksha Bandhan has a lot of significance because it is on this day that a sister ties a thread on a brother's hand and prays for his well-being, prosperity, and long life. In turn, the brother vows to protect her sister from evil. Rakhi follows the lunar calendar and is celebrated on a full moon day of the lunar month, Shravan. The festival generally falls in August every year. The festival of Rakhi is held according to the lunar calendar and is celebrated on a full moon day of Shravan, the lunar month.

History of Rakhi


The Story of Lord Krishna and Draupadi

Lord Krishna killed the devil King Shishupal in order to protect and ensure the Dharma on earth. In the battle, Lord Krishna's finger got injured and started bleeding. Draupadi noticed this and tore a piece of her saree and tied it around it to stop the bleeding. Her concern and love were recognized by Lord Krishna. She had a sisterly affection and compassion that touched him. He promised to be there for her and protect her from all the perils. Years later, when the Pandavas lost Draupadi to the Kauravas in the game of dice, Lord Krishna used his divine powers to save Draupadi’s honor and dignity during the time of ‘Vrastraharan’. 

The Legend of King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi

The demon king Mahabali worshiped Lord Vishnu.  Owing to his sincerity, faith, and devotion, he left his homeland in Vaikundam and took the oath to protect Bali. This agonized his wife, Goddess Lakshmi as she wished to stay with her husband. Taking up the disguise of a Brahmin woman, Lakshmi went to King Bali and sought refuge in the castle.  On the day of Shravana Purnima, or full moon day, she tied a rakhi around King Bali's wrist. Later, Goddess Lakshmi revealed her true identity and the reason behind her visit. This left the king overwhelmed. Bali asked Lord Vishnu to go to Vaikuntam with his bride. Since then, inviting one's sister to tie an auspicious thread of Rakhi for Raksha Bandhan on Shravana Purnima has become customary.

The Vedic Saga 

During the Vedic Period, on the day of 'Shravan Poornima,' the demons and the deities were engaged in a grim battle. The demons were in a strong position and the deities suffered losses. Indra, the king of deities, was worried about the outcome of the battle. His wife Indrani could not see his pain and prayed to god. Being a religious lady herself, she prepared a talisman and tied it around her right wrist of Indra. This talisman helped Indra win the battle. As the talisman had the power to protect it was called "Raksha Sutra" and the ceremony of tying it was called "Raksha Bandhan".

The Tale of Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun

The most well-known historical example is the tale of Rajputana Rani Karnavati and Mughal Emperor Humayun. Rajputs defended their Kingdom from Muslim invasion during the Middle Ages. Since then, the concept of Raksha Bandhan signified dedication and care for one's sister. The widowed queen of the Chittor king was known as Rani Karnawati. She came to the conclusion that she would not be able to defend her kingdom from the invasion of Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat. She sent a Rakhi thread to the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The Emperor was so moved by this gesture that he immediately led his men in that direction in order to save Chittor.

Significance of Rakhi

A festival is the best way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture, and traditions. India is a country of rich cultural heritage. Just like every other festival, Raksha Bandhan is not just about celebrations or merrymaking. It is a festival that is imbued with rich underlying significance that has a spiritual, scientific, and social context. Rakhi is not restricted to the love and warmth shared between siblings. It emphasizes nurturing purity in thought, soul, word, and deed. The spiritual, scientific, and social significance of Raksha Bandhan enables us to put things into perspective and understand the underlying meaning of the festival in depth.

Spiritual Significance of Rakhi

The spiritual significance of Raksha Bandhan is when one takes a sacred divine vow of purity with God, to live a life of purity in thoughts, words, and actions. This sacred thread called a rakhi is a gentle reminder to protect ourselves spiritually from the vices. It upholds the values of protection, establishes righteousness, and destroys the evils of society. Raksha Bandhan is an occasion that establishes 'Papa Todak, Punya Pradayak Parva'. It is the day that bestows boons and removes sins as mentioned in the ancient scriptures. The Rakhi rituals signify the spiritualism that is intertwined with it. The ‘Tilak’ signifies soul consciousness which is a symbol of being victorious over body consciousness. Tying a Rakhi signifies the vow of purity taken by all souls. Even in the yesteryears, the rishis or gurus tied rakhi to the disciples who sought their blessings and promised to guide them on the spiritual path. They also tied the sacred thread to themselves to safeguard them from all the potential dangers. 


Scientific Significance of Rakhi


Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in the month of Shrawan according to the Hindu calendar. It is also known to be the auspicious month of Lord Shiva. This festival is also known as Rakhi Poornima as it falls on the full moon day. This is the day the moon is in its full phase and brings the fluids on the earth into the mode of attraction. Just like the tides in the ocean, the fluids in our body also travel in the upward direction. This is the time when humans are prone to diseases like tension, high blood pressure, lack of sleep, and so on. Due to the health-related aspects and geographical factors, the concept of care and protection was introduced by our scholars and saints. Raksha Bandhan is the auspicious occasion when rakhi or the thread of protection is tied on the wrists of brothers. Rakhi threads are generally red, orange, or yellow and act as cure elements. Going to Color Therapy, these colors have a close association with energy, digestion, pancreas, and upward movement of the fluids. As we all know, rakhi is tied on the right wrist of the body. According to Hindu philosophy, it is tied to the right hand as every holy or auspicious work is done by the same hand. The wrist connects various parts of the body. High blood pressure is a common phenomenon during the Raksha Bandhan. Tying a thread on the wrist can control the flow of blood when a person has high blood pressure. There is a scientific explanation behind applying the holy tika on the forehead. Just like Raksha Bandhan, tilak is applied on the forehead of the brothers on every occasion. Tilak is applied to the pineal gland of the forehead. Often known as the seat of the soul or the third eye, the pineal gland provides the body with energy and calmness. Applying tilak on the forehead stimulates the pineal gland. 

Social Significance of Rakhi

Raksha Bandhan has played an instrumental role in bringing in a social change. The sentiments and emotions associated with this festival involve cultural and moral values. It upholds the universal spirit of brotherhood, harmony, and peaceful coexistence. The festival of Rakhi got a new meaning with Rabindranath Tagore. He led a protest against the decision of British Viceroy Curzon to divide Bengal on religious grounds. He urged Hindus and Muslims to tie Rakhi on each other’s wrists to express harmony and solidarity among each other. The ceremony united the communities against the evil designs of the British rulers and started a rebellious movement. Today Rakhi is not restricted to sending rakhi threads to brothers and sisters. It is also the day to express love, harmony, and the true spirit of brotherhood among humans. 

Even in today's scenario, Raksha Bandhan has a different perspective altogether. This is the day women tie rakhis on the wrists of their brothers while the brothers promise to protect and be there for their sisters. In a society that swears by the objectification of women, this auspicious festival teaches its men to be protectors, not perpetrators. It is a festival that not only celebrates the warmth of love between the siblings but also teaches men to look at other women in society just like sisters and protect their honor even if they are not related by blood. Besides, it also teaches its men and women to care for, love, support, and respect each other. Today, Rakhi is not restricted to sending rakhi threads to brothers and sisters. It is also the day to express love, harmony, and the true spirit of brotherhood and togetherness among humans. 

Rakhi Traditions

1. Beginning the Day

Rakhi is an important festival in most Indian households. It is not just about a sister tying the rakhi on her brother’s wrist. The gods are also appeased at the beginning of this day through prayers and offerings. Families wake up early in the morning and bathe to purify themselves before making these arrangements.

2. Preparing the Rakhi Thali

The sister prepares a thali with Roli (vermilion), Chawal (rice), Diya (earthen lamp), sweets, and the rakhi thread. Rakhi has an enormous emotional value for many. The rakhi thread is often made by the sister or if not made then bought by the sister, hence when they are not around they can prepare for the day by sending rakhi to India. The handmade rakhis add to the charm of this festival of brother-sister love.

3. Following the Rituals

The rituals followed on Rakhi are done on a predetermined auspicious time. This varies from year to year depending on the lunisolar positions. The sister begins the celebration by applying Tilak on her brother’s forehead. The Tilak is made of the Roli and Chawal that are there on the thali. She then ties the holy thread around her brother’s wrist while chanting a prayer for his long and healthy life.

4. Tying the Sacred Thread

The sacred thread is tied to the right wrist of the brother. It is considered auspicious and traditional according to Hindu mythology. According to Ayurveda science, scholars found that this ancient system advocates the use of the right hand for tying rakhi because it holds the belief that Vata, Pitta, and Kapha get regulated. This is why the brothers extend their right wrist while their sisters tie the Rakhi and bless him.

5. Aarti

 The tying of the Rakhi is followed by an Aarti. The sister wards off all evil energies from around her brother through this. She again chants a prayer while performing the Aarti. In the end, she seeks the blessing of her elder brother and blesses the younger ones.

6. Exchanging Gifts

Exchanging gifts has become an important tradition of Rakhi. The sisters receive special gifts from their brothers on this day. Brothers even send rakhi gifts to India if they cannot make it home for the auspicious day. The gifts symbolize the affection that a brother has for his sister. Right from a tiny box of chocolates to an elaborate set of jewelry, Rakhi gifts come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

6. Indigenous Traditions Followed on Rakhi

Rakhi is a festival that is celebrated in varied ways in India and its neighboring countries. Though the celebrations and rituals vary in different places, the essence of this festival remains the same.

West Bengal and Odisha (Jhulan Purnima)

 West Bengal and Odisha observe a 13-day festival called Jhulan Jatra which ends on the day of Rakhi. This festival celebrates the love that Radha and Krishna shared. These 2 states have a large population of Vaishnavs and Krishna followers, and hence the grand celebration of this festival. Singing and dancing is also an integral part of this occasion.

Maharashtra (Narali Poornima)

The Koli community of fishermen from Maharashtra celebrate Narali Poornima on the day of Rakhi. The people worship Lord Varuna - the Hindu Sea God to seek his blessings and protection while at sea. As a tradition, they offer coconuts to the lord by throwing them into the sea.

Haryana (Salono)

Salono is a festival celebrated in Haryana on Rakhi Poornima. This is quite similar to rakhi as a holy thread is tied on this day. But the difference is, that a priest ties it on people’s hands instead of the sister. The motive behind this ritual is the same as Rakhi - wishing good health for a person.

Nepal (Janai Purnima or Rishitarpani)

Janai Purnima or Rishitarpani is a festival where the men change their Janai - the holy thread they wear across their chests. This festival is celebrated by both the Hindus and the Buddhists of Nepal on the day of Rakhi.

The spirit of Rakhi lies in a never-ending bond that binds everybody irrespective of differences in terms of religion, caste, creed, or religion. The significance of the festival lies in its high emotional value. You can send online Rakhi to India and send rakhi gifts to India to your siblings or the people who make a difference in your life to make them feel truly celebrated, loved, and cared for. To know more, go through the article on how to send rakhi to India from the USA that would help you to know better. Though with time, Rakhi gifting traditions have undergone many changes, the essence is still the same. The ways of celebrating this occasion may have changed but not the emotions attached to it. Whether the sisters send rakhi to India from abroad or send rakhi to India from the USA, at the bottom of their hearts lies the same enthusiasm for surprising the brothers. Time can change except for the love shared between a brother and a sister. So send Rakhi gifts to India and enfold your heartfelt feelings of love.

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