FESTIVALS : Kachche Dhagon ka Pakka Bandhan – Raksha Bandhan Special!

Raksha Bandhan is a unique festival of India which celebrates the sacred bond between a sister and a brother. Sisters tie Rakhis on the wrists of their brothers and pray for their long lives and prosperity and chant this mantra:

येन बद्धो बली राजा दानवेन्द्रो महाबल:। तेन त्वामनुबध्नामि रक्षे मा चल मा चल।।

Meaning: I am tying this Rakhi to you, just as the one tied to the mighty and generous King Bali (by Goddess Lakshmi). This will protect you. O Raksha! Be firm. Do not waver. In turn, brothers vow to always protect their sisters and strive to keep her happy. They also offer them Rakhi gifts that can be in form of cash or kind. Celebrated on the full moon day of the Shravan month called Rakhi Poornima, Raksha Bandhan 2013 will fall on August 21, 2013. There are a number of mythological and historical legends about Raksha Bandhan, but at Mathura, people retell the stories of Krishna – the ideal brother. Krishna was a brother every sister prays for. Amidst all His leelas – overcoming mighty and powerful demons, overthrowing the cruel king Kansa, building His own kingdom, and helping out His dear friend Arjun, He always used to find time to keep himself abreast about what His sister is going through, what she dreams about, what she needs and what should be done to help her.

He played the part of a loving and caring brother for His sister Subhadra as well as for Draupadi who had tore her saree and tied it on His hand, when he was wounded while using His Sudarshan Chakra. Krishna is a gem of a brother!

At Jagannath Puri, one of the famous four pilgrimage places of Char Dhaam Yatra, Krishna is worshipped along with His brother Balram and sister Subhadra. While almost all the gods and goddesses are worshipped their wives, Krishna is perhaps the only God who is worshipped with His siblings. Sacred bond between Subhadra, Krishna and Balram Subhadra was the youngest of the trio of Balram, Krishna and Subhadra. When she was of marriageable age, Balram – the eldest brother – decided that she would be married to Duryodhan – the eldest Kaurav who was considered a powerful prince at the time. However, Subhadra was in love with Arjun who was the handsomest of the Pandavas and was a known warrior too.

At the time, Pandavas were in exile and their future was considered uncertain and Subhadra knew that Balram would never agree to marry her to Arjun. Krishna sensed that His sister was not happy with the chosen groom and goaded her. Hence, He arranged for Arjun to elope with His sister.

He asked Subhadra to be the charioteer, so that if they are ever found out, it could be said that it was Subhadra who had abducted Arjun. Well, Balram did find out what happened and spared Arjun’s life only because Subhadra had been the abductor. When Balram realised that Subhadra has already given her heart to Arjun, he agreed to their marriage. While Krishna depicts the caring brother who stood by His sister and helped her to fulfill her dreams; Balram depicted an ideal elder brother whose only intention was to keep his sister happy forever. When he realised that Subhadra will not be happy with the groom of his choice, he gave in – letting the will and desire of his sister rule the most important decision of her life. This shows the spirit of an ideal brother-sister relationship – to care for each other’s happiness and yet, giving each other enough space to take their own decisions; to stand up besides each other in time of need and also be magnanimous enough to forgive each other for aberrations. Draupadi’s Rakhi extended for yards to save her honour! There is another interesting legend about Krishna as a brother that is astonishing in nature. Draupadi, the other wife of Subhadra’s husband Arjun, once tore her saree and tied it on a wound on the hand of Krishna. Since then, Draupadi and Krishna regarded each other as sister and brother respectively.

When Yudhishthira lost Draupadi to Kauravas in a dice game, Duryodhana ordered his younger brother Dushashana to bring her to the court and strip her of her clothes. Draupadi was shocked when she was forced into such a situation. She realised that all the five of her valiant husbands are now the slaves of Kauravas and have lost all the rights to save her honour. She was confounded over the fact that no one in the court came to her aid despite her pleas. She, then, called upon Krishna to protect her from such an insult.

It is said that the Rakhi she tied on Krishna’s wrists became a saree – several hundred yards long – and kept her covered at all times. Krishna saved Draupadi yet again! There is another incident in Mahabharata when Krishna saved Draupadi and her husbands from harm. It is said that the sun-god had given an akshay patra to Draupadi, which would yield food until Draupadi eats her dinner. Draupadi would use it to feed her family and guests in exile. Duryodhana, with an intention to harm the interest of Pandavas, sent a false invitation in their name to Rishi Durvasa along with his 60,000 shishyas. The invitation specifically asked Rishi Durvasa to come for a late-night dinner. When Durvasa arrived at the door of the Pandavas, Draupadi had already eaten. She did not know how she would be able to feed such a huge army of Brahmins at such a short notice. She also knew about the destructive anger of Rishi Durvasa and could not risk making him angry. Hence, tactfully, she asked him to take a bath in a nearby river and called upon Krishna to help her out. Krishna came promptly and ate half a grain of rice left stuck in the akshay patra and declared that He was full – with a burp. Since He is the source of all the souls in the world, everyone in the world felt satisfied and full too. Durvasa and his shishyas decided to return as they felt that they could not eat anything anymore.

Krishna never abandoned His sisters. He was never so busy as to assume a backseat when His sisters needed Him. At this Raksha Bandhan, let’s celebrate the sacred bond between siblings with a vow to actually care for each other and stand beside each other in times of need!

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