For hundreds of years, Raksha Bandhan and the concept of tying a rakhi was used to symbolise the love and respect that a brother had for his sister and vice versa. However, at the dawn of the 20th century, it was used by Rabindranath Tagore to protest against the British Raj and to deftly manoeuvre their attempt to partition Bengal.
Around 1905, Bengal was at the peak of its nationalist movement and was proving to be a formidable threat to the British rule. In an attempt to curb nationalistic fervour, the British decided to partition Bengal. During a meeting between Lord Curzon and the Muslim delegation in Assam in June 1905, a decision was reached to divide the Hindu majority regions of West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha from Muslim-dominated areas of Assam and Sylhet, reports The Indian Express.
Naturally, this move was opposed by anybody with a rational mindset. Case in point – Rabindranath Tagore. Unfortunately for the British, this move was taken during the month of Sravan when the festival of Raksha Bandhan takes place. Tagore sent out a call for people to use the festival to strengthen the concept of unity and brotherhood.
Tagore, being the influential man that he is, managed to get hundreds of Hindus and Muslims on the streets to tie rakhis on each other.
In his book, Tagore by Fireside, A Majumdar writes: “He transformed the religious tradition of Raksha Bandhan to a secular motif of unity among diversity and resisted Banga Bhanga (Partition of Bengal).”
After six years of vehement protest, the decision to partition Bengal was withdrawn in 1911.
(Header credits: Flipkart Stories)