Rakshabandhan or simply Rakhi is a festival in India celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravana. The name of the festival came from the Sanskrit word 'Raksha' mean protection and 'Bandhan' means relation i.e. it is a festival of relation to protecting one. Sisters on this day tie a thread or bracelet on the right wrist of her brother to remind him to protect her from all the evils in the society.
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It is considered to be a Hindu festival but the festival is celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and other communities in India. The festival has many historical stories and events which suggest it not only a religious festival but a social festival and hence celebrated by people of other religions in the society.
The day sister ties a thread on his brother's wrist and both will then pray to god for goodwills and then the sister applies tilak on the forehead of the brother and performs Aarti for the long life of his brother and the brother in response the brother pledge to protect her sister in all circumstances.
Historical stories about Rakhi
Alexander the great and King Porus
According to a story, in 326 BCE when Alexander the great invaded India Roshanak, the wife of Alender, send a thread to Porus with a request that Porus don't harm Alexander in the battle. In order to respect the thread, Porus in the war against Alexander didn't personally attack him.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
In another story, the queen of Chittor in 1535 CE sends a thread to Mughal Emperor Humayun to request him to protect her and her kingdom from Sultan of Gujrat, Bahadur Shah. As she was the widow of the king of Chittor and was helpless and in need send him the thread. Mughal Emperor sends his troops but he was late and Bahadur Shah had already captured Chittor.
However, the above two events are only considered as stories and there is no evidence of happening of such events.
Rabindranath Tagore and the Bengal partition of 1905
A state of India, Bengal, was divided by the Britishers in 1905 into two provinces on the basis of religion. To protest against the decision of Britishers and to unite Hindus and Muslims in Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore used the festival Rakshaband to spread the feeling of brotherhood. Britishers were in 1911 forced to reunite the two provinces. However, later Muslims opposed this and Bengal was again divided into two provinces and efforts of Tagore was unsuccessful. The provinces with Hindu people are still a part of India and known as 'West Bengal' and the other part with the Muslim majority is now country known as 'Bangladesh'.
Sikh Khalsa Army
In the 18th Century, there was a Sikh army who introduce the term rakhi in order to save the farmers from Afghan invaders.
The founder of Sikh Empire, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, observed Rakshabandhan festival and his wife sent Rakhi to the ruler of Nepal. The ruler of Nepal accepted her as his sister and later when Britishers attacked Sikh Empire he gave his sister shelter in Nepal.
So, above all stories shows the significance of Rakhi as a historical festival more than the religious festival.