A single thread symbolising love, bonding and care is what tying rakhi means to most Indians.

For most of us, it is a promise to stand by our brothers and sisters no matter what.

This same idea inspired the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore to reintroduce the centuries-old festival, Raksha Bandhan, in Bengal as a celebration of unity.

This was done to serve as a reminder of unity at a time when imperialism threatened to break Bengal apart.

At the dawn of the 19th century, Bengal had emerged to become a hotbed of nationalist movements, threatening British-rule.

The discontent with the British rule among the citizens of Bengal was a major concern for the authorities.

To curb this rising dissent, the British decided to resort to the ‘divide and rule’ policy.

Their strategy was to break the communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims of the region, and Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India was put in charge of it.

The decision for Bengal’s partition was taken at a meeting between Curzon and a Muslim delegation in Assam, in June 1905.

This would separate the Hindu-majority regions of West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha and the  Muslim-dominated areas of Sylhet and Assam.

The order was passed on 16 October 1905 and was vehemently opposed by prominent leaders of the time, including Rabindranath Tagore.

Coincidentally, by the time the Partition of Bengal was about to come into effect, the month of Shravan had arrived.

Tagore decided to use rakhi to reunite the divided citizens of Bengal and put in all his efforts to call out to his fellow citizens to rise above their communal identities and embrace each other in unity.

As anticipated, be it on the streets, or in community halls, hundreds of Hindus and Muslims came together to tie each other rakhis, as a symbol of protest against the British government’s divisional policies.

For the next six years, widespread protests continued in Kolkata, Dhaka and Sylhet, until the colonial government was left with no choice.

In 1911, the British finally withdrew from the partition, marking a great victory in the history of India’s freedom struggle.