When Lord Krishna cut his little finger handling sugarcane on the day of Makar Sankranti, his queen Rukmini sent for bandages with an official. Meanwhile, Draupadi – wife of the five Pandava brothers – watching the entire incident from the sidewings, tore off a little piece of her saree and tied it around his hand to stop the bleeding. Draupadi’s deep affection resulted in Krishna to be bound by her sisterly love. Many years later, when the Pandavas lost Draupadi to their brothers in a game of dice, he divinely turned her saree never-ending, thus immortalizing his promise to come to her rescue when she asks for it the most.
Thus goes the oldest and most popular mythological legend of the festival.
The modern day interpretation of the festival was seen during the 1905 Bengal Partition when Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore urged Muslims and Hindus to tie rakhis on each other to display their solidarity against the British.
A rakhi then, can symbolize a bond of protection and unity between any two individuals. As per Hindu tradition, the sister, the protectee, places her trust on her brother, the protector – who may or may not be biologically related – by tying a sacred thread around his wrist. The festival is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravan.
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