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Ancient Legends: The Origin Stories of Raksha Bandhan

Last updated :
June 24, 2024
/

minutes read

Raksha Bandhan is a time-honoured festival that celebrates the sacred bond between brothers and sisters. The festival's origins are steeped in ancient legends and mythological stories that highlight its significance and the values it upholds. Here are some of the most famous legends associated with Raksha Bandhan.

A brother and sister exchanging gifts and tying rakhi on Raksha Bandhan
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1. Indra Dev and Sachi

The story of Indra Dev and his wife Sachi is one of the oldest legends tied to Raksha Bandhan. According to the Bhavishya Purana, a fierce battle took place between the gods (Devas) and the demons (Asuras). The demons were on the verge of victory when Sachi, Indra's wife, sought help from Lord Vishnu. Vishnu gave her a sacred thread, which she tied around Indra's wrist after performing a ritual. Empowered by this protection, Indra was able to defeat the demons and reclaim his kingdom. This tale underscores the protective power of the rakhi and the divine blessings it brings.

2. Krishna and Draupadi

One of the most popular stories linked to Raksha Bandhan is from the epic Mahabharata. During a battle, Krishna injured his finger, causing it to bleed profusely. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, immediately tore a piece of her saree and tied it around his finger to stop the bleeding. Touched by her gesture, Krishna vowed to protect her in times of need. This bond of protection is celebrated through the festival of Raksha Bandhan, symbolizing a brother's vow to safeguard his sister.

3. Bali and Goddess Lakshmi

Another significant legend is that of King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi. According to the Bhagavata Purana, Lord Vishnu defeated the demon king Bali and granted him a boon. Bali requested Vishnu to stay with him in his palace, to which Vishnu agreed. However, Vishnu's wife, Goddess Lakshmi, wanted her husband to return to Vaikuntha. She tied a rakhi on Bali's wrist, revealing her true identity and requesting him to release Vishnu. Touched by her plea, Bali agreed, and since then, Raksha Bandhan has been celebrated as a festival of protection and devotion.

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4. Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun

Rani Karnavati sending a rakhi to Emperor Humayun, symbolizing her request for protection

In medieval India, the story of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun is a historical testament to the bond of Raksha Bandhan. When Rani Karnavati of Mewar faced an invasion by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, she sent a rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun, seeking his protection. Humayun, despite being in the midst of a military campaign, abandoned his plans and rushed to her aid. Although he couldn't reach in time to save her, he later restored her kingdom to her son, showcasing the powerful bond symbolized by the rakhi.

5. Rabindranath Tagore and the Bengal Partition

In 1905, during the partition of Bengal, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore used Raksha Bandhan to promote unity and harmony. He encouraged Hindus and Muslims to tie rakhis to each other as a symbol of brotherhood and solidarity against the British colonial rule. This initiative fostered a sense of unity and resistance against the division, highlighting the festival's role in strengthening social bonds.

Conclusion

A family gathered around, celebrating Raksha Bandhan with traditional customs

Raksha Bandhan is not just a celebration of the bond between siblings but also a festival rich with historical and mythological significance. From ancient legends of divine intervention to historical acts of solidarity, the festival embodies the values of protection, love, and unity. This Raksha Bandhan, as you tie the sacred thread, remember the rich heritage and the timeless stories that make this festival so special.

FAQ

What are some popular legends associated with Raksha Bandhan?

Popular legends include the stories of Indra Dev and Sachi, Krishna and Draupadi, Bali and Goddess Lakshmi, Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun, and Rabindranath Tagore's efforts during the Bengal partition.

How do these legends influence the celebration of Raksha Bandhan?

These legends highlight the themes of protection, loyalty, and unity, which are central to the celebration of Raksha Bandhan. They add a deeper cultural and historical context to the festival.

Why is Raksha Bandhan celebrated on the full moon of Shravan?

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan (Shravan Purnima) because this date is considered auspicious and is linked to various legends and traditions that emphasize protection and brotherhood.

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