Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit literally means “the tie or knot of protection”. The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. The sister performs a Rakhi ceremony, then prays to express her love and her wish for the wellbeing of her brother; in return, the brother ritually pledges to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances.
Like many other festivals, this festival reinforces the role of men as protectors and providers. The concept is further strengthened by legends associated with this festival.
Some well-known legends associated with Raksha Bandhan are:-
1. Lord Krishna considered Draupadi his sister. When Krishna cut his finger while beheading Shishupal, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna said that with this loving act, she wrapped him in debt and he would repay each “thread” when the time arrives. When Draupadi needed Krishna’s protection she fervently prayed for his help, he came to the rescue and gave her unlimited cloth.
2. In 1535 AD Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah. She sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. However Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani’s fortress.
However feminist feel that women’s role as caregiver and nurturers is bondage and women must be freed of their traditional gender role. Hence Men’s rights activist feel that if women do not want to be care givers or nurturers then men too should be freed of their role as protectors and providers.
Therefore with an aim to change mind-set, Men’s rights activist in Kolkata celebrated a unique Rakhi whereby brothers tied Rakhi on hands of sisters in a reversal of role.
The idea was to break the stereotype of males as protectors and providers that is currently prevalent and is incongruous with the concept of gender equality.
Men’s rights activists also asked sisters not to file false dowry, rape and molestation cases. During 2014 West Bengal has 23278 cases of IPC 498A, majority of which are false. It is worth noting that there are only 1 case during 2014 under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, 501 Dowry death cases and 1 case under Dowry prohibition act. Since there is no parity between the number of cases registered under 498A and other similar laws, it can be concluded with certainty that most of them are false.