Raksha Bandhan, fondly called Rakhi festival, originated in India around 6,000 years ago. It is celebrated in various ways in different parts of the country. The word “Raksha” means protection and “Bandhan” means binding. It is a festival that celebrates the bond between a brother and a sister. During this festival, a sister performs a puja for her brother wherein she applies kumkum and rice grains on his forehead. She then ties a rakhi on his hand, which is said to protect him from all the evil forces and all factors that could taint his character. The brother would then offer sweets and gifts to his sister while making a promise to protect his sister for the rest of his life.
Your children must know the significance of this festival. If you don’t teach them, who will? Here are some super interesting stories you should definitely tell your kids about this Raksha Bandhan.
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
The story about King Mahabali and Goddess Lakshmi is one of the most famous stories told on Raksha Bandhan. This story is why the festival is also called Baleva – Bali Raja’s love for Lord Vishnu.
As the story goes, King Bali was a great demon king who was loved by all in his kingdom. He was very generous to his people and soon became very popular. This made all the Gods above feel jealous. Aditi, the mother of Gods, sent down Lord Vishnu to test the great king.
Lord Vishnu then took on the form of a Brahmin dwarf, called Vamana, and walked up to Mahabali’s court. He then asked Mahabali for a piece of land which is as much as he could cover in 3 steps. Mahabali found this request odd but agreed to it anyway. His advisor had warned him saying that Vamana did not seem to be an ordinary person and that he should be careful. But as a man of his word, Mahabali granted his wish and asked Vamana to take 3 steps. It was then that Vamana started to grow and expand himself to cosmic proportions. His first step covered the Earth, the second covered the Skies and for the third step, Mahabali offered his head.
He was sent down to the Netherlands where he learned that the dwarf was Lord Vishnu himself. Being an avid devotee of the Lord, he sought his blessings. Lord Vishnu then brought Mahabali back from the Netherlands and helped him by promising to forever protect his land and his people. Vishnu had taken the form of a doorman and Mahabali was not aware that the Lord he worshipped was the one protecting from danger every day.
It was at this time that Goddess Lakshmi learned about this and grew worried. She too came down in the form of a human and sought the shelter of Bali under the context that her husband had gone away on a long errand.
Mahabali protected the Goddess as if she were his own sister. In the month of Purnima, Goddess Lakshmi tied a cotton thread on his hand. King Bali was touched by this and promised to grant any of her wishes. She pointed at his gatekeeper and said she just wanted to be reunited with her husband. As the king appeared at a loss for words, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi took on their true forms. Mahabali stays true to his word and asks the Lord to return to Vaikuntha with his wife.
Lord Krishna and Draupadi
Everyone knows the great tale of Lord Krishna and Draupadi. Though in the books they are said to consider each other as Sakha and Sakhi, meaning friends, their bond is deeper like that of a brother-sister bond. When Lord Krishna was wounded after defeating the evil king Shishupal, Draupadi rushed to his aide. She tore off a piece of her saree and tied it tightly around his finger to stop the bleeding. For this sisterly act, the Lord promised to return the favour for each thread of the cloth she used to cover the wound. The most famous instance was when he protected her honour when the Kauravas attempted to dishonour her through Cheer Haran (removal of saree).
Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun
There is, of course, the story of how the widowed Maharani Karnawati sought the help of various kings when Sultan Bahadur Shah unexpectedly attacked Chittorgarh. She was ruling Mewar on behalf of her son, Vikramaditya, who was unpopular and considered unfit to rule. Her army did not have a leader and this caused them to lose a battle against Sultan. It was at this time that she sent a Rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun who immediately realised the meaning behind this Rakhi. He rushed over to her rescue and defeated the Sultan. He then reinstated Vikramaditya as the Maharana. Although he did not reach in time to save all the people in the fort, he did save the Hindu queen and this is what makes the story worth telling.
These are the 3 greatest stories that your child must know about this Raksha Bandhan. Do share this with all the kids and mommies you love.