This Independence Day is unique as it coincides with Rakshabandhan, festival of love, affection, sacrifice and reaffirmation of faith in relationships. The day also becomes extra special as we celebrate inclusion of Kashmir into mainstream India, requiring spreading of love and affection to Kashmiris on becoming inseparable part of Indian federalism.
The story of Independence is rather straightforward to be summed up as freedom from 200 years of oppressive British rule albeit with partition of the country into India and Pakistan, with Kashmir’s accession happening subsequently albeit that too with partition between Kashmir and POK. This story of accession of Kashmir has been discussed in one of my earlier blogs. However, the story of Rakshabandhan, the festival of relationships and affection marked by tying thread of love, Rakhi, by sisters on the wrists of their brothers, is more complex as written in lores. According to the most ancient lore, Uttara Parva of the Bhavishya Purana, Lord Krishna describes to Yudhishthira the ritual of having a raksha (protection) tied to his right wrist by the royal priest (the rajpurohit) on the purnima (full moon day) of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravana). In the crucial passage, Lord Krishna says, Parth (Yudhishthira): When the sky is covered with clouds, and the earth dark with new, tender, grass, in that very Shravana month’s full moon day, at the time of sunrise, according to remembered convention, a Brahmin should take a bath with perfectly pure water. That very day, in the early afternoon (between noon and 3 PM) it is commended that a small parcel (bundle or packet) be prepared from a new cotton or silk cloth and adorned with whole grains of rice or barley, small mustard seeds, and red ocher powder, and made exceedingly wondrous, be placed in a suitable dish or receptacle. … the purohit should bind this packet on the king’s wrist with the words,’I am binding raksha (protection) to you with the same true words with which I bound Mahabali King of the Asuras. Always stay firm in resolve.’
However, apart from the above there are several other folklores behind this festival of affection and respect between brothers and sisters. And today when this festival falls on the Independence Day, what better gesture can a grateful nation display other than tying Rakhi, the thread of love and affection on the wrists of its soldiers, the protectors of this nation, who are facing the enemy and the disguised enemy day in day out. The stories of their martyrdom for the sake of our country and citizens give us goose bumps. Whatever we have been able to do today – Balakot, Abhinandan’s return, abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 (a), strong independent stand on Kashmir aftermath the aforesaid act of abrogation are all due to the might and courage of our protectors! May on this Independence Day, when free India turns 72, our protectors accept our gratitude in the form of Rakhi and may this country of saints, sufis and great personalities always holds its head high, with an unfurled tricolour flying higher than any other flag in this world!
Happy Independence Day and Rakshabandhan.