Raksha Bandhan – The Celebration of Sibling Bonds

India is a country where various festivals are celebrated throughout the year to celebrate different occasions, bonds and relationships.

One festival celebrated mainly in the Northern part of the country is the festival of Raksha Bandhan. This festival celebrates the love between a brother and his sister.

What is Raksha Bandhan?

The word Raksha Bandhan comes from two words, Raksha and Bandhan, where Raksha means protection and Bandhan refers to a tie or a bond. The festival symbolizes the eternal love between a brother and a sister; where the sister ties the Rakhi, and the brother promises to protect her. Raksha Bandhan is an important part of the Indian culture that strengthens the bond between a brother and sister. Raksha Bandhan symbolizes a brother’s steadfast promise to safeguard his sister. This concept stretches beyond physical safety; it encompasses emotional assistance, sympathetic listening, and a secret pact to serve as an impenetrable barrier against the difficulties of life. The act of tying the Rakhi is a tangible representation of an intangible bond— a connection that grows only stronger with time.

How is it Celebrated?

Just like other festivals, preparations for Raksha Bandhan also begin days before the festival.

The sisters begin by buying the Rakhi for their brother from the markets specially decorated for the occasion. Nowadays, there is a lot of variety to choose from. For example, you could choose from silver Rakhis, golden Rakhis, colourful threads, bracelets and even designer Rakhis. Also, the sisters buy mithai and other sweetmeats for the brother and his family. Though the trend has now changed and even chocolates and pastries may be bought, the celebration is incomplete without a box of traditional sweets.

On Rakhi day, either the sister goes to the brother’s house or vice versa as per everyone’s convenience. The sisters decorate a thali with the Rakhi, some mithai, and a tika. To the chanting of a prayer or a mantra, they put the tika on the brother’s forehead and then tie the Rakhi on his wrist. On tying the Rakhi, the brother gives the sister cash or some gift of her choice. The gift could be anything from clothes to jewellery to anything which the brother wishes to gift. While the sister prays for the brother’s health, wealth and prosperity, the brother promises to protect her from all harm and evil throughout their lives. 

In some communities, the sister ties a Rakhi on the wrist of the sister-in-law as well as it is believed that she is responsible for the well-being of the brother and his family. The Rakhi for the bhabhi is called the Lumba Rakhi.

And once the ceremonies are over, the entire family joins the celebration and everyone gorges on the food specially cooked for the day. It is a day of a lot of fun, frolic and joy.

The Origin – About Raksha Bandhan

The story of why rakhi is celebrated, is embedded in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. In Mahabharata, Lord Krishna once cut his finger, which then started bleeding. Seeing this, Draupadi tore a piece of cloth from her saree and tied it to his finger to stop the bleeding. 

Considering the cloth that she tied a sacred thread, Krishna promised that he would protect her from all evils throughout his life.  So when the Kauravas tried to disrobe Draupadi, Krishna salvaged her dignity by providing immeasurable reams of cloth to keep her covered.

The act of Draupadi tying a piece of cloth on Krishna’s wounded finger is synonymous with Raksha Bandhan — a girl tying Rakhi on her brother’s wrist and he, in turn, promising to protect her just as Krishna protected Draupadi. The Hindu epic marks how Raksha Bandhan started and embodies the strong bond of unity and devotion. 

More About The Roots of Raksha Bandhan

Over the centuries, more information about raksha bandhan has been gathered that present historical accounts of why raksha bandhan is celebrated. Historical accounts trace as far back as the Middle Ages. Queen Karnavati of Mewar, found in modern-day Rajasthan, dispatched a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun in the 16th century. This rakhi symbolized a plea for assistance in light of a threatening invasion. Humayun’s response to this cry for help exemplified the unbreakable connection that stands regardless of differences. 

Raksha Bandhan: A Timeless Celebration

With the passage of time, the importance of Raksha Bandhan broadened from its traditional and legendary beginnings. It blossomed into a festivity that honored brother-sister relationships and unqualified fondness. The ritual of tying a thread became a material demonstration of the powerful sentiments that join siblings in harmony with each other. The ways of how Raksha Bandhan is celebrated may have changed but the strong emotions attached with this auspicious day and the values attached remain the same. 

Also Read: Menu for Raksha Bandhan

When is Raksha Bandhan Celebrated?

This festival which celebrates the unique bond between a brother and his sister, is an awaited festival in India. It is observed on the full-moon day or Purnima in the Hindu calendar month of Shravan. The date of raksha bandhan changes from year to year, depending on the celestial cycle. Rakhi marks an opportunity for the entire family to reunite. This is a day for siblings to revel in their bond, reminisce, and present one another with tokens of dedication. The whole family takes part in joyous feasts, trade presents, and delight in each other’s presence.

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