There is a little known side-story in the Ramayana that very few people are aware of.
It happenned when Lord Rama was in exile. Living a peaceful life in the forest, with his lovely wife and devout brother. Away from cruel step-mothers and back bending maids.
Just when everything was quiet and nice, there appeared a terrible distraction.
Demon princess Surpanakha was roaming around in the forest, looking for some action. And she saw Rama, and she was smitten. “Wow, now that’s an ideal man”, she said to herself.
So she changed form, and appeared before Rama as an irresistible beauty. She tried to woo Rama, but he was not impressed. He was a perfect man, and a monogamous one at that (which firmly proves that the story is plain myth, but let’s not hurt religious sentiments here!).
Anyways, when Rama did not succumb to temptation, Surpanakha turned to Lakshmana. Who turned out to be even more of a perfect man and refused her saying he was a married man. (I mean, Rama at least could have been thinking Sita might sulk, but Lakshmana knew that Urmila won’t even come to know).
Anyways, to cut a long nose (oops, story) short, Surpanakha was humiliated and sent back. And perfect men though they were, they forgot one little detail: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!!!”
So, Surpanakha went back to Lanka, and cried her heart out to her dear brother, the almighty demon king Ravana. Ravana flew into a rage, and promised his little sister that he would make the people who did this to her pay dearly.
Now, Ravana was an all powerful king, conqueror of the three worlds, but he had one little weakness. You see, Ravana had ten heads, but as is the case with divided responsibility (also called group work in b-school lingo), every head used to assume that the other would take care of the all the brain work. So, he was a forgetful person.
So, to remind him of his promise, Surpanakha did what all women do when they need men to remember things. She tied a thread around his hand.
And in honour of that tradition, to this day, sisters tie a thread around their brothers’ hands. It is celebrated as Rakshas Bandhan, a symbol of the bond between a brother and a sister.
PS1: Inspired by recent posts of Naren. A person whom I have never met, but who has made me chuckle quite a bit.
PS2: Not intended to hurt any religious sentiments. So, please spare me the sermon about respecting our epics.