Festival of Raksha Bandhan
Family and relationships are held sacred in India and have a much deeper meaning for most. Every occasion and event brings the family together for a celebration and Raksha Bandhan is one such festival which rejoices the relation of a brother and sister.
Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi is a Hindu festival, celebrated primarily in India. In Sanskrit, it literally means “the tie or knot of protection”. However, literally translated, the term Raksha means protection and Bandhan means relation/bond. This festival celebrates the love and duty shared by biological brothers and sisters as well as those brother-sister relationships that may not be biologically related. As per the Hindu calendar, it usually falls on the full moon day or Purnima of the Shravan month, which typically falls in the Gregorian calendar month of August.
This much-awaited festival of Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated on August 7 this year. On this day, a sister ties a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist with a prayer for his prosperity and happiness. The Rakhi is the knot of protection that shields a brother from all evil. This symbolizes the sister’s love for her brother. The brother in turn promises to protect her and look after her always and gives her a gift as a token of his love. This ancient Hindu festival with all its rituals is one of the several occasions in which family ties are affirmed in India. To many in India, this festival is much more than just biological family. It bonds men and women across religions and various ethnic groups and encourages peace and love.
While Raksha Bandhan is primarily observed on the Indian subcontinent, it is also celebrated by some Jains and Sikhs and by Hindu communities in other parts of the world. However, this relationship is nowhere so celebrated as in India.
The celebration of Raksha Bandhan is marked by happiness and excitement especially for young girls and women. Typically, shopping for the perfect rakhi starts quite ahead of the festival and sweets are prepared the day before. Plenty of women also design and create personalized rakhis at home for their brother/ s. Rakhis vary in design……some are simple, some very heavily decorated and some are spiritual like the rudraksha rakhis.
The much-awaited day begins quite early for those celebrating Raksha Bandhan. Everyone in the family gets ready for the rituals quite early in the morning and brothers and sisters dress up quite nicely for the occasion. The puja thali containing roli, rakhi threads, tilak, rice grains, incense sticks, diya and sweets is readied by the sister. After offering prayers to God, the sister performs her brother’s arti, puts tika and chawal (rice grains) on his forehead and ties a Rakhi on his wrist and offers him sweets. The prayers draw inspiration from the Hindu scriptures.
The ritual of Rakhi tying has become so important that come what may, brothers and sisters try to visit each other’s place on this particular day in order to bring back the oneness of the family, binding the family together in an emotional bond of love.
Celebrate the eternal bond of brother and sister….Happy Raksha Bandhan !
Picture Credit : Astrosage.com, Rudraksha Ratna