New Delhi: Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a festival celebrated in India, which involves a sister tying an embroidered thread around her brother's wrist. It is also called Rakhi Purnima in the south of India as it is generally held on full moon. The festival is mainly observed by Hindus and Sikhs though some other communities have also indigenised the celebrations. In 2012, Rakhi will be celebrated on August 2.
According to an ancient narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, his wife Roxana sent a sacred thread to Puru, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Puru, a Katoch king, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when he was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he allegedly looked at the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself.
It is said that in the middle ages, in the second quarter of 16th century, Queen Karnavati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun, son of Babur and father of Akbar, when she required his help. The festival apparently grew in popularity after this.
The partition of Bengal in 1905 shook Rabindranath Tagore so much that he composed a poem titled "Rakhi" and marched through Calcutta with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh for a holy mass dip in the Ganges. They tied rakhi to people's hands as a symbol of the unbreakable unity of Bengal. In certain parts of India, specially to the east, Hindus and Muslims tie rakhis to each other to promote communal harmony.