Happy Ganesha Chaturthi! The following article by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gives an insight into the symbolism behind this festival venerating one of the most beloved deities in Hinduism.
The Call of Ancient Love - by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Today is Rakshabandhan so I will speak something about that. It is often believed that on this day, the sister ties the sacred thread or band on the brother’s wrist and asks him to protect her at all times. This is what is commonly heard and told, isn’t it? But this is not the essence and spirit of Rakshabandhan at all! The true secret of Rakshabandhan is that when a sister ties the thread on her brother’s wrist, it is a gesture of saying that “I will protect you at all times”. So it is the sisters who pray and wish for the protection and well-being of their brothers. This is what Rakshabandhan truly means. Today is the auspicious day of Shravana Purnima (the full Moon day in the auspicious month of Shravana as per the Hindu calendar). Today we are celebrating a very special and unique tradition through the festival of Rakshabandhan, in which it is the sister who (takes the vow and) protects her brother! Women of our country are often called weak and powerless. So it is worth wondering how a woman who is considered as weak and fragile can protect a man and give him moral strength and support.
There is a growing misconception since the ages that women are weak and powerless. It is not so at all. Women possess a very unique power within themselves – the Sankalpa-Shakti (the power of will and determination). So a woman too can protect and give support to a man using her strong will power and inner strength. In India, we have never regarded women as weak or inferior in any way at all. How can a woman be weak? A woman has so much (inner) strength and power that she can stop the mighty Sun also! You all must have heard the story of Satyavan and his wife Savitri. She was so devoted to her husband that she fought the very Lord of Death from taking her husband away and brought him back to life. Similarly, you must have heard the inspiring story of Devi Anusuya.
So, women possess the power of feelings and emotions, and have great inner strength within them. This is the greatest strength that one can have. If one loses one’s inner strength then outward physical strength is of no use. To be physically strong, one has to be strong from within first (referring to strong will power and courage). Inner strength here means both – the power of the intellect and also the strength of inner will and emotions. A woman possesses the unique and beautiful combination of both of these. So on the day of Raksha Bandhan, it is the ladies who take a vow to protect the men (by tying a sacred thread on the wrist of the brother).
On the happy and auspicious occasion of Vara Mahalakshmi Celebrations, I found this wisdom by Gurudev