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Friday, August 12, 2011

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan
Around mid-August, on Shravan Purnima, Hindus all over celebrate Raksha Bandhan. "Raksha" means protection, "bandhan" means bound or binding.
The festival is also known as Balev.

Scriptural Origin

  • The Bhavishya Puran cites a story that the devas once battled with the danavas (demons) for twelve years. However, the devas lost, including the mighty Indra. So they prepared to fight again. On this occasion, Indrani tied a raksha on her consort Indra, after extolling Raksha Bandhan's glory. Indra then attained victory.
  • During the battle of Mahabharat, Queen Kunti tied a raksha on her grandson Abhimanyu to protect him in battle.
  • When the demon King Bali's devotion won over Lord Narayan, he was compelled to leave his abode, Vaikunth, to stay in Bali's kingdom in Sutal. When Lord Narayan failed to return, his distressed consort Lakshmi arrived in Sutal on Shravan Purnima. She accepted Bali as her brother by tying a raksha on him. In return, Bali asked her to wish for a boon. She requested Narayan's return. She grieved that despite having a consort she was experiencing premature widowhood in Narayan's absence. However, the Lord had pledged to eternally protect Bali, by guarding his door. To resolve his dilemma, Brahma and Shiva agreed to guard Bali for four months each, while Vishnu (Narayan) would guard him for the auspicious four months - Chaturmaas - beginning from Ashadh Sud Ekadashi and terminating on Kartik Sud Ekadashi, usually from Mid-July to Mid-November. The festival of Raksha Bandhan commenced when Lakshmiji tied the 'rakhadi' ('rakhee' in Hindi) on Bali Raja. Since Bali Raja offered devotion by sacrificing everything to the Lord, the day is also known as 'Bali-eva' or 'Baleva' for short. Therefore when Brahmin priests perform puja rituals, they chant a famous mantra while tying the 'nada chhadi' (raksha) on a devotee:
    Yena baddho Baliraja daanavendro Mahaabala,
    tena twaamabhi badh naami rakshe maa chala maa chala
    i.e. I tie on you (the devotee) the raksha which was tied on Bali, the King of demons. Therefore O Raksha! Do not ever fail to protect this devotee, do not ever fail.

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