The Rakhi Day
In India, many days are festival days and every festival has a beautiful significance. But, none can match the Universal, Cross cultural significance of the Raksha Bandhan Festival. This Year, it falls on 13th, August, 2011 (Today).
This festival is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs on the Shravana Purnima Day of the year in countries like India and Nepal.
It is the cultural tradition of this festival, which inspired Swami Vivekananda to address all men and women of the world as “Brothers and Sisters” in his Chicago address.
Raksha Bandhan means the bond of protection.
Sisters pray for the health and welfare of their brothers, tie the Rakhi, a thread made usually of silk and decorated in many ways, around the wrist of their brothers, and may offer some sweets to their brothers - in token of their love and affection.
The Brothers in their turn, bless their sisters, offer them presents and take a vow to protect them against any hardship or calamity throughout their lives. And the Rakhi brothers strive to keep their word in many ways – even now.
Raksha Bandhan is performed not merely among the blood-related brothers and sisters, but all among all those who accept each other as brothers and sisters.
In India, to this day, there are many, many men, for whom, their lives are of lesser importance than the life and honour of their sisters (and other women whom they treat as sisters). You can find people fighting against the high and mighty , even to this day, to protect their women and their honour.
The ancient smrithis and puranas say unequivocally, that, where the women are happy there the Gods smile (and reside permanently); and where the women weep, their the Gods do not stay; rains do not fall – and so on. It applies to individual households as much as it applies to kingdoms. And, the man is enjoined to keep the women happy – as a matter of his duty.
It is out of such a tradition – that the festival of Raksha Bandhan is born.
Even Goddess Lakshmi is known to have practiced Raksha Bandhan and tied the Rakhi on the wrist of King Bali (a demon king); to free her Husband Lord Vishnu, who was guarding the kingdom of King Bali, out of his love for his Bhakth, the King Bali.
Protecting sisters from any type of hardships is considered a sacred duty which even the Gods have followed. Goddess Durga is known to treat Lord Vishnu as her brother and seek his help on many occasions, for instance, in case of the Bhasmasura.
Lord Krishna is know to have accepted Drupadi as his own sister – and helped her and Pandavas on many occasions in the Maha Bharat. His brotherly love for Draupadi is eulogized on many occasions in the Maha Bharat.
There are several such anecdotes in later history, one of them in respect of King Porus, to whom Roxana (in 326 BC) is understood to have sent a Rakhi. Respecting the Rakhi tradition, Porus is understood to have refused to kill King Alexander, Roxana’s husband, in the battle.
Centuries ago – the Mughal King, Humayun was also known to have responded to Rani Karnavati’s request, to defend her fortress Chittor with his army, as she sent him her rakhi.
If you look at the above anecdotes - you find the Rakhi - uniting the Gods and Goddesses with demon Kings, Greeks with Indians, Muslims with Hindus and so on - throughout its history.
The festival was originally prevalent in North India predominantly – but has now spread to all parts of the country – as the central point of this tradition is seen and accepted as beautiful and culturally outstanding.
In this festival, all caste, regional and other barriers are freely broken by the womenfolk, accepting men of other castes, regions etc as their brothers and tying the rakhi around their wrists. We can find the men responding with equal fervor to their rakhi sisters, accepting them as equal to their own blood-related sisters (Or even more).
The rakhi, many times, goes beyond religious and national barriers. Men of other religions and nations are also known to respond with great fervor to their rakhi sisters. You can find on face book and twitter, rakhi sisters and brothers from all countries and religions – cutting across all such barriers and pouring forth their love and affection for each other unreservedly.
This is one of the festivals which can and must be adopted Universally by all nations and religions – as it promotes integration of all human beings as one family of Brothers and Sisters. If a festival confers huge respect, love and protection on womenfolk through the men folk – it is this Festival.
I would urge the Government of India and the United Nations organization (UNO) to adopt this as a Universal festival, in the great spirit of the UN Charter.
I, through this Blog, offer my unstinted love and affection for all the sisters and brothers of humanity, on this wonderful occasion.
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