The festival of Raksha Bandhan in India has come a long way from homemade simple rakhi designs to bluetooth enabled rakhis, and even popular jewelry brands are getting into the latest rakhi designs.
The history of Raksha Bandhan has both a mythological and political background. As history unfolds before them, rakhi threads carry forward the heritage of culture and tradition, as well as the unity and diversity of religion.
Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakhi, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters in India. For many of us, it may appear that Raksha Bandhan is only a North Indian festival celebrated by a few cultures, but as we progress through this blog, we will discover that Raksha Bandhan in India evolved and became more than just a simple festival celebrated.
Raksha Bandhan, which is celebrated annually on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravan, which comes in August or September, has its roots in Hindu mythology. The Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan symbolizes the love, care, and protection brothers provide to their sisters.
The highlight of the Raksha Bandhan event is the rakhi tying ceremony, in which sisters tie a holy thread known as a rakhi on their brothers’ wrists. The brother promises to look out for and look after his sister throughout his life, and the tying of the rakhi represents the sister’s affection and prayers for her brother’s well-being.
The festival has evolved over time and is now celebrated in many different ways across India, with some families choosing to stick to traditional customs, while others opting for more modern and trendy celebrations.
Let’s go through the origin and history behind Raksha Bandhan, the political influence it had over the people, the changing phases of this festival, and the different types of rakhi that evolved through the celebration of Raksha Bandhan in India.
History Behind Raksha Bandhan in India
Raksha Bandhan is a celebration that has been observed for millennia in India; the first mention of it dates back to the third century BC. Raksha Bandhan is now a significant holiday that is regularly observed by families all over India.
The history of the occasion shows ways this has served to encourage inter-communal peace on an Indian level.
First, let’s get through some mythological aspects of the Rakhi festival.
The King Bali and Goddess Laxmi fable is a well-known one. According to legend, King Bali was exiled to the underworld by Lord Vishnu but was permitted to return to the earth once a year.
King Bali’s sister gave him a rakhi on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan as a sign of her care and protection. King Bali was so moved by her act of kindness that he begged Lord Vishnu to permit him to come to earth once a year. This is what gave rise to the Indian holiday of Raksha Bandhan.
In the history of Raksha Bandhan, the festival has always been a way to show and encourage inter-communal peace among dignitaries in power. It was also used to construct and even settle various feuds between numerous rival kings.
In the recorded history of Raksha Bandhan in India, folklore and oral history made a great mark, and one of the earliest examples is the tale of Roxana and Porus.
The plot continues as Alexander’s wife Roxana ties a rakhi to King Porus, who ultimately spares Alexander’s life on the battlefield. This folklore was later popularized by the 1941 movie Sikander. However, in 2017, a German film historian named Anja Wieber stated in her book A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen that the legend is one of the oldest and that there was very early historical evidence for the origin of the authentic Hindu festival known as Raksha Bandhan.
Another story is about the Mughal Emperor Humayun and Rani Karnavati.
The kingdom of Mewar was once ruled by a widowed queen, Rani Karnavati, and was attacked by Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535. She sent a bejeweled rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi, urging him to help her kingdom.
However, Humayun did go to fight Bahadur Shah during this time period to Chittor there is very little contemporary evidence to this story which is why it cannot be said on a factual basis.
Political history of Raksha Bandhan in India
Raksha Bandhan in India was also used in protesting against the British and made an impact in our freedom struggle.
Rabindranath Tagore Rakhi Bandhan – In 1905, Rabindranath Tagore took advantage of this festival as a way of showcasing protest against the Bengal Partition and creating two different provinces, Hindu and Muslim majority provinces, respectively.
Raksha Bandhan occurred during the same period, with August coinciding with the Hindu month of Shravan. Rabindranath Tagore urged Hindus and Muslims to tie rakhis on one another’s wrists as a symbolic gesture to unite people against imperialist forces.
Following Tagore’s appeal, hundreds of people showed up with rakhis in towns and cities, namely Kolkata, Chittagong, Dhaka, and Rangpur. He turned a religious festival into a secular symbol of unity across differences.
The Traditional Celebration of Raksha Bandhan in India
With the origin of Raksha Bandhan in India, various traditions followed, and though in modern days American diamonds or precious stone rakhis are highly popular among the youth, many find it hard to believe that rakhi was once a simple cotton thread called ‘Kalawa.”.
Rakhis used to be made by hand, with sisters making their own. However, purchasing rakhis was a late arrival, and sisters decorated their rakhis with vibrant threads and accessories, leading to more creative and artistic designs as sisters strived to create the most attractive Rakhi. This healthy competition eventually led to the commercialization of Rakhi threads.
Various rakhi manufacturers have entered the industry, creating different types of rakhi. Rakhi has transformed from a religious celebration to more of a cultural occasion, particularly in metropolitan India.
The event has expanded beyond just commemorating typical male-female sibling ties. Instead, there is a rising emphasis on recognising and appreciating other platonic ties that represent love and protection, such as the Lumba rakhis, which honors the relationship between sisters-in-law.
The Modern Celebration of Raksha Bandhan in India
Raksha Bandhan is one of the few Indian festivals that has adapted and evolved over time, transcending its traditional gender-based roots to become an inclusive celebration of all types of bonds.
As a result, it provides companies with an excellent opportunity to showcase their purpose-driven initiatives, which are crucial in today’s society.
Raksha Bandhan in India has evolved from a simple, affordable decorative thread to a much more ornate incarnation, whether it’s gold and diamond studded strands or recent Bluetooth rakhis.
After experiencing superior products, Indians sought style and standard in every product they used, including the basic thread of Rakhi. This demand was recognized by Rakhi manufacturers, who began producing Rakhi and improved its quality by employing higher-grade raw materials.
Rakhi designers began to focus heavily on the style, pattern, and intricacy of the Rakhi design to give sisters a break from the conventional Rakhi patterns. This resulted in the manufacture of Rakhi that were both visually appealing and of good quality.
Initially, Rakhi production was carried out as a cottage industry, where a group of women would come together to make handmade Rakhi.
Later on, with growing demand, the production of Rakhi became more structured, and entrepreneurs identified the potential of this market. They set up factories and engaged designers and craftsmen to create more appealing and visually striking designs, including the simplest and latest rakhi designs.
Various jewelry brands have also entered into designing different types of rakhis, creating a long-lasting effect of the festival.
Given the tremendous popularity of online Rakhi shopping sites in recent years, one can predict that E-Rakhi shopping will be the future of Rakhi shopping sites. It is expected that the number of computers connected to the Internet will expand significantly in the next few years, making e-commerce even more popular.