Did you know that Raksha Bandhan was a festival that helped unite Hindus and Muslims during the Partition of Bengal in 1905?
We have all learnt our history. And history cannot be learnt without learning about the Indian Freedom Struggle. During the movement for Indian independence, the British Raj took a step to curb the surging movements of nationalism. One such step was the partition of Bengal in 1905.
The Britishers stated that their reason for partitioning Bengal were purely administrative. However, it was a known fact that the real reason to divide Bengal into Eastern Bengal (including Assam with its capital at Dacca) and Bengal (the western part including the then provinces of Bihar and Orissa) was to curb the rising nationalism against the British in India.
This partition of Bengal was opposed by many leaders including Rabindranath Tagore. But nevertheless, the decision was taken by Lord Curzon in June 1905, the orders were passed in August 1905 which came into effect in October 1905.
When the orders were passed to create two separate areas based on religion, the date fell during the month of Shravan when the Hindus celebrated the festival of Raksha Bandhan. It is during that time that Rabindranath Tagore gave out a strong non-verbal statement by celebrating the festival to show a picture of unity amongst the people of the then Bengal.
When Tagore called out to his fellow Indians, scores of Muslims and Hindus in Kolkata, Dhaka and Sylhet came out in huge numbers and tied Rakhi threads to portray their unity.
Although the decision to partition of Bengal was not reversed until six years after in 1911, Raksha Bandhan played a very important role in aiding the Indian Independence movement.
Today as we celebrate Raksha Bandhan, it is important to know that this practice of celebrating the bond of brother-sister dates back to ancient times, finding a mention in the Mahabharata, Bhavishya Purana and Vishnu Purana. In Mahabharata, Draupadi ties a rakhi on the hand of Krishna before the battle of Kurukshetra.
It is also said that Yamuna and Yama followed the ritual of Raksha Bandhan with an alternative account that says that Bhai Duj originated from the bond of a brother-sister shared by Yama and Yamuna.
The festival also finds mention in various other historical accounts like the Battle Of Hydaspes between Porus and Alexander. Another mention of rakhi comes when Rani Karnavati of Chittor sent a rakhi to Humayun when she felt that she could not defend her kingdom against an invasion by Bahadur Shah – the Sultan of Gujarat.
Along with being celebrated in India, Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated in Nepal.