Raksha Bandhan, one of the most emotionally pious festivals, celebrates the love between a sister and her brother with great enthusiasm, especially for the sisters. Not only do they wait for their brothers to arrive for the ceremony, but most of them even fast till the time they tie the Rakhi on the hands of their brothers. Celebrated in most parts of the nation without fail, on the day of Rakhi, a brother tries to be with his sister, no matter how far he has to stay the rest of the year. It's only after when a Rakhi (decorated thread believed to be sacred as per the ancient legends) has been tied to a brother's hands that the sister breaks her fast. Brothers, in return, shower their beloved sisters with gifts and take a vow to protect them from any little harm. Rest of the day is celebrated in exchanging gifts, engaging in harmless banter, distributing utmost pleasantries; all with wholeheartedness. Even the markets undergo pleasant makeovers and so do the many houses. People shop till they drop and buy all sorts of stuff from dresses to decorations to gifts for the sisters, contributing to the celebrations on a magnanimous scale.
Raksha Bandhan Celebrations
It is a thing which is starts much before the actual day of Rakhi. The sisters get their homes cleaned and whitewashed, waiting for the arrival of their brothers. They also decorate the entrances of the houses with intricately designed Rangolis, a decorative pattern which is coloured with dry and bright colours. However, the main decorative item remains the 'Rakhi Thali', a plate colourfully adorned with laces, colours, glitters and ornaments, and used during the Rakhi rituals. Nowadays, different types of decorated Thalis are available in the shops which are meant especially for this purpose.
Mixture of finely grounded mehandi or henna with water and fragrant oils is used with immense liking by the women and girls alike to adorn their palms and forearms. It's because Henna has a quality to leave orange coloured markings behind it when the mixture dries up and the crust is removed. So different patterns are drawn with the paste and are carefully removed from the skin when it all dries up, leaving behind saffron coloured beautifully intricate designs. This adornment is considered to be sacred in Indian culture and hence is a part of almost all festivals. What's more, there are different types of patterns which belong to different cultures and sub-cultures, and because of these differences the patterns hold in them exotic folk histories. A few of these styles of designs are Marwadi, Shekhawati or Mumbaiya style.
As this is one of the major festivals of India, people dress themselves up in the most appropriate way - The Traditional Way. Hence, the ethnic dresses like saris and kurtas are common to be seen in homes & streets alike. While the guys get into in kurta-pyjamas, and pathani suits etc, girls, on the other hand like to wear traditional dresses like salwar-kurta, churidaar-kurta, saris, and lehengas etc. Apart from these, some fusion dresses, mixing the traditional with the urban, are also in vogue, most common being the unisex wear - kurtas and jeans. Women who are married dress themselves up in gaudy Saris adorned with Zari work.
Much before the festival of Rakhi, shopping districts start to get thronged with people, young and old, shopping for something or the other. Women indulge in shopping for Rakhis, dresses for themselves, and other decorative stuff ideal for the festival of Rakhi; whereas, men shop for apparel as well as gifts for their sisters. Even the markets are set much before the festival and are adorned with beautiful rakhi, rakhi decorations, and gifts. Some individual shops too, get into the spirit of the festival: adorning themselves with the decorative stuff and the entrances bejewelled with traditional rangoli patterns.
Rakhi thread is the item of utmost significance in this festival. This decorated piece of thread is really what the whole deal is about. The thread is not just a mere piece of it as it's fuelled with sacred emotions that go into the ceremonial tying of the rakhi on a brother's wrist, by her sister. It signifies the bond of love which a brother shares with his sister. This is also a silent prayer on sister's part to the God to keep him safe from any and every danger, and a brother's promise to look after her come what may.
The celebrations of Rakhi start even before the actual date of the festival. Read on to know more about Rakhi Celebrations.