AS the Hindu community celebrates Raksha Bandhan, an auspicious festival for sisterly-brotherly affection on Saravana Purnima, Indian American activist Pabitra Choudhury becomes nostalgic recalling the fest he had participated in India .He also recalls the legends associated with its origin. It has been tradition to invite sisters on Saravana Purnima for the thread-tying ceremony which is called Raksha Bandhan. It is believed that tying of Rakhi brings happiness, victory, health and wealth. In the course of a huge battle between gods and demons, Indrani, wife of Indra, king
of Gods , on the advice of sage Brihaspati, took a thread, read mantras and tied it around her husband’s wrist, wishing him safety and victory. Indra won the battle. Thus, on a symbolic note, the Rakhi (thread) ensures protection of the righteousness over the forces of evil. As per another legend, Once, Yama, Lord of Death, was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whosoever gets a Rakhi tied from his sister Yamuna will become immortal. While at Indraprashtha, the ancient name of Delhi, Sri Krishna once got hurt on his hand and blood started oozing. Draupadi who was nearby immediately tore a portion of her sari and tied it on the wound; the bleeding stopped. This incident occurred before the 18 -day Mahabharata War fought at Kuruskhetra now in Haryana.
Krishna was greatly moved and promised that he would repay the debit. Thus, the custom of Rakhi commenced. Krishna was charioteer for warrior Arjuna .Raksha Bandhan started courtesy Draupadi. It is said ahead of the War of Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, had asked Krishna how he could guard himself against the impending evils and catastrophes of war. To this, Krishna advised him to perform the ceremony of tying a thread to himself and the army. It is said that Kunti, mother of Pandavas, tied Rakhi to her grandson, Abhimanyu, and Draupadi tied the thread to Krishna.
Another legend is Alexandra had arrived India and was planning to invade king Puru. One day, Alexandra’s wife who had heard about the sanctity of Rakhi Bandhan, approached king Puru who accepted her as his
and promised not to slay her husband should there arise an occasion for
that. The great Hindu king responded and refrained from killing
Alexandra when such an occasion presented itself in the
course of battle. Mythologies aside, it is indeed a great Indian fest as on this day, sisters tie Rakhi or sacred thread around the wrist of their brothers deepening their relations. The festival is observed as a symbol of duty between brothers and sisters. (Edited by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty)