Raksha Bandhan, the festival of siblings, holds a very special place in the heart of every brother and sister. Celebrated on the same day as Jhulan Purnima (this Sunday), which is also the birthday of Krishna’s brother Balaram, it has even more importance in the land of Krishna. Brijwasis celebrate this festival in quite a different and spiritual way.
Vrindavan. 2014.08.08 (Priyanka Acharya, VT): The festival of Raksha Bandhan is dedicated to the pure bond of love between a brother and a sister. Though the rakhi is only a simple thread, it represents the most honest relationship: the togetherness and affection of a sister for her brother.
According to Vrindavan resident Ajay Anand Sharma, the festival started during the time of King Bali, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Says Sharma, “The Lord was so pleased by his devotion that he left his divine abode and came down to the Earth to protect and watch over Bali’s kingdom. Lord Vishnu’s wife, the goddess Lakshmi, who wished to have her husband back in his heavenly abode, came down to Bali’s kingdom. She tied a sacred thread around Bali’s wrist on the full moon day of the month of Shravan. When asked about her identity, she revealed that she was the goddess herself and told Bali of her desire for her husband to be returned to her.”
Continuing his story, Mr. Sharma says, “The king immediately granted her wish and went to Lord Vishnu and requested him to accompany her back to Vaikuntha. Bali’s intervention on behalf of Lakshmi symbolizes the way that a brother protects his sister, even after she leaves the family home to go to the house of her husband.
“Ever since then, this festival has been celebrated on the Shravan Purnima, which comes generally in the month of August. As the name suggests, Raksha Bandhan is a promise to protect and cherish the sacred bond that exists between brother and sister. This ritual is followed with full dedication everywhere in India. It would not be wrong to say that this is a festival of sibling love.”
Every sister is excited on this day in expectation of getting some gift from her brother. Varieties of gifts are available in the market for both brothers and sisters to show their love and affection for each other. Choosing a Rakhi gift is not that easy; it must carry the essence of festivity and must convey their love.
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated with pomp, and distance is no obstacle for sending a rakhi to a loving brother or exquisite gifts to a sister.Shikha Nangia, a shopkeeper in Vrindavan, says that nowadays a Rakhi gift is not limited to sweets and chocolates, as gadgets are taking place as the most impressive gifts. She says, “Not only the gifts, but the rakhis themselves are also getting fancier day by day, with manufacturers coming up with all kinds of innovative ideas to appeal to brothers of a younger age, adorned with their favorite cartoon character. For others, there are rakhis of gold, silver, pearl, or zardozi.” Nowadays, many of the fanciest rakhis are being imported from China.
Vrindavan is a religious place and many devotees reside here leaving their luxurious home behind. For them Krishna is everything and on this auspicious festival devotees tie this sacred thread on Krishna’s wrist and ask for his blessings in return. On this auspicious festival of Raksha Bandhan, the distance between God and human is diminished and one expresses close feelings for God, like that of a sister for her brother.
In this way, the devotees feel Krishna’s intimate presence at every second, and like Bali protected Lakshmi, he protects us from the negativity of this world.
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