(The Universal Oneness Day)
The Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brother and the sister. It is also known as Rakhi Poornima as it is celebrated on the full moon (Poornima) day of the holy month Shravana (August). The Raksha Bandhan festival stirs up one of the deepest and noblest emotions in the human heart – the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brother and the sister. The duties of brothers and the love and affection of sisters are symbolized through the tying of Rakhi. In earlier days, it was merely a festival of brothers and sisters, but now it has become of all.
On the Raksha Bandhan day, the festivities start by the day break. Everyone gets ready early and gathers for the worship of the deities. After invoking the blessings of the Gods, the sister performs brother’s aarti, puts tika and chawal (rice) on his forehead and ties Rakhi. Then she gives him sweets and gifts. The brother accepts her offerings and vows to take care of her and be by her side in the time of need. As a token he gives the sister a return gift and sweets. Emotions can be expressed through emails, greeting cards, and rakhis through internet or mail in case siblings cannot meet in person.
On this day, in the coastal regions of Bharat, Bharatiya people worship the rain God Indra and the Sea God Varuna. They offer coconut and seek their blessings. Fishermen start their voyages on this day for fishing. The farmers start sowing seeds on this day and pray for a good crop. It is said that Sri Rama started for Lanka to rescue Sita on this day. He crossed the sea from the bridge made by the Vanar Sena by throwing stones in water.
Thousands of events highlight the importance of the Raksha Bandhan. For instance, in Mahabharata, when Sri Krishna kills Shishupaala with his weapon, Sudarshan-Chakra, his finger gets wounded. Seeing this Draupadi tears a piece of cloth from her sari and ties on the wound. And after quite some time, when Draupadi was insulted by the Kauravas, Sri Krishna rescues her by showering saaris. In another incident, once Yudhishthira asked Sri Krishna how best he could guard himself against impending evils and catastrophes in the coming year. Sri Krishna advised him to observe the Raksha ceremony.
The sister-brother relationship highlighted by the Raakhi goes far beyond the mere personal protection of a female from a male. It also implies the basic element of an amicable and harmonious social life where all members of the society look upon themselves as brothers and sisters and as children of mother Earth. In Hindu tradition, Raksha has assumed all aspects of protection of the forces of righteousness from the forces of evil.
Raksha Bandhan festival helps to develop the sentiment of the universal brotherhood which is the need of today’s world to keep the social harmony and piece. The sentiment of universal brotherhood will eventually lead us to the sense of universal oneness. A society imbued with this spirit can live and prosper amidst all kinds of challenges either from within or without. Powers of intellect, body, and of material wealth and influence will then be utilized for the upliftment and service of others. The idea of the Hindu has always been:
Sarvepi sukhinah ssantu, sarve santu niraamayaah |
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu, maa kashchit duhkhabhaag bhavet ||
(Let everyone be happy, let everyone be free from all ills, let everyone behold only the auspicious, let no one be afflicted.) Raksha Bandhan is the most useful mean to bring this idea into reality.
In Sangh, the festival is celebrated in a little different way. Sangh participants not only tie raksha to each other, but also to bhagava-dhwaj (Saffron flag). Bhagava dhwaj symbolizes entire Hindu society. The tying of raksha to the sacred bhagava dhwaj at the start of the function signifies this social and cultural aspect. Not only do the participants in the function develop a sense of love and affection amongst themselves but they also affirm their loyalty and devotion to the Hindu society. Their commitment to protect each other and also the society as a whole isemphasized through this simple ceremony.
Raksha Bandhan is the most auspicious occasion to recharge ourselves every year with the true spirit of service and sacrifice for the welfare of the society, and find therein the highest spiritual fulfillment of human life.