Raksha Bandhan, history and myths associated with this great Indian festival

‘Raksha Bandhan’ (knot of protection), the traditional Indian festival, came into existence about 2000 years back during the period of The Indus Valley Civilization. Here are some historical events and myths related to Raksha Bandhan.

Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun

The story of queen Karnavati and emperor Humayun is the most significant incident in history. It is said that when Rani Karnawati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could in no way defend the invasion of Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor touched by the gesture, started off with his troops without wasting any time.

 Guru Nanak Dev and Bebe Nanaki

Bebe Nanaki was the elder sister of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. She is known for her unconditional love and support to Guru Nanak Dev. She was the first to realize her brother’s ‘spiritual eminence’ and considered to be the first Gursikh.

Wife of Alexander The Great and King Puru

One of the oldest reference to the festival of rakhi goes back to 300 B.C. at the time when Alexander invaded India. It is said that Alexander was shaken by the fury of the Indian king Puru in his first attempt. Upset by this, Alexander’s wife approached Puru and tied rakhi. Later when the opportunity came during the war, he refrained from killing Alexander.

Lord Krishna and Draupadi

When lord Krishna killed the evil king Shishupal, Krishna was hurt during the war and left with a bleeding hand. Seeing this, Draupadi had torn a strip of cloth from her sari and tied around Krishna’s wrist to stop the bleeding. Seeing her affections and concern, lord Krishna declared himself bounded by her sisterly love and promised her to repay this debt by protecting her.

Yama and the Yamuna

Yamuna, the goddess of Yamuna river, received the gift of immortality from her brother Yama, the god of death. This myth related to Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as Bhai Duj in some parts of India.

These are only few significant evidences related to Raksha Bandhan, from the pages of history and from Indian mythology. During colonial era, when the British empire divided Bengal on the basis of religion, the great Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, Rabindranath Tagore arranged a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, and urge them to protest the British empire together. He used the idea of Raksha Bandhan to spread the feeling of brotherhood.

Image Credit : Theotherhome