Raksha Bandhan, popularly known as Rakhi, is a festival celebrated to honor the blessed and unconditional bond between brother and sister. Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit means “the knot of protection”, which a sister ties on her brother’s wrist and brother promises to take care of her, throughout her life. This festival is celebrated every year on the full moon day of the month of Shravan (i.e. during the month of August). This year it is falling on the 26th day of August 2018.
Nowadays, this traditional festival has taken a form of fun-filled celebration, when sisters get dressed well, apply mehndi on their hands and buy colorful Rakhis (the sacred threads) for their brothers. On the other hand, brothers get them nice rakhi gifts to pamper them. The Rakhi symbolizes the love between the siblings.
The rituals start by performing traditional aarti and concludes with prayers for the wellbeing, prosperity and happiness). After the prayer, the sister applies a tilaka colorful mark on the forehead of the brother. After that, the brother pledges to guide and protect her throughout the life under all circumstances.
Both the siblings treat each other with sweets, then they hug and the larger family ritually toast the joyful celebration of brother-sister love and protection.
Background of the festival
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated since ages and has many myths and historic legends linked to it. The popular practice of Raksha Bandhan has its historical associations as well.
According to the mythology Raja Bali, who was such a great devotee of Lord Vishnu that Lord Indra felt insecure. Indra Dev worshipped Vishnu and asked the Lord to save his sovereignty.
Lord Vishnu accepted his prayer and defeated Bali. After a while, Bali worshiped Lord Vishnu and got the blessing of immortality. To keep his promise Lord Vishnu went to ‘Vaikunthdham’ to safeguard Bali’s kingdom. Later, Goddess Lakshmi (wife of Lord Vishnu), went to Raja Bali as a poor lady and asked him for shelter. She regarded Bali as her brother and tied a thread on to his wrist symbolizing the knot of protection on this auspicious day.
When Bali desired to give her some present, she told him, her true identity and the reason for her arrival. So, in place of the materialistic gift, she asked Bali to send Lord Vishnu back to Vaikunthdham.
Another story associated with Raksha Bandhan is from Rajputs. The rituals started from the ancient time by Rajput families, the Rajput queens practiced the custom of sending Rakhi threads to neighboring rulers as token of brotherhood.
Other than that, it is said that Rabindranath Tagore also organized a ceremony to rejoice Raksha Bandhan, so as to reinforce the bond of love and friendship between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal and encourage them to protest from the British Empire, together. He used the idea of Raksha Bandhan to spread the feeling of association.
Raksha Bandhan is widely celebrated by the Hindus, Jains, and most Sikhs. Though the festival is originated in India but is also celebrated in places like Nepal and Mauritius.
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