Rakhi, or Raksha Bandhan, a festival celebrating the eternal bond between a brother and a sister, is celebrated in the month of Shravana (July-August) which according to the Hindu calendar, falls on a full moon day. The very words, Raksha, meaning Protection, and Bandhan, meaning Ties, put together manifest an unsaid oath taken by a brother: to protect his sister for all mortal eternity the moment a Rakhi is bound to his hand by her. This rakhi (made of few colourful cotton or silk twisted threads), though merely a thread, symbolizes the lovable bond of a brother and sister to grow stronger day by day. Kept from the ancient of times, it's the customs and rituals of it that make Rakhi what it is today, and it completely belongs to the sisters and their brothers. Continue reading through the page to know more about the customs and traditions of the festival of Rakhi in India.
Rituals and Traditions of Raksha Bandhan
Rakhi is one of the most colourful festival of India, depicting the brother-sister relationship and celebrated with great pomp and show.
- Preparations for Rakhi start days before the actual date. Shops, displaying different types of rakhis and sweets can be seen in the market. However, the real celebrations are seen on the day of the festival when all the members of the family dress up in new clothes.
- On the day of Rakhi, the sisters perform an aarti (a religious ritual) for their brothers and put tika (a small mark, made of paste of saffron and powdered form in red mixed with water) on their forehead and then tie the Rakhi for his prosperous life. The brothers promise to protect their sisters in times of even the slightest difficulty and dread.
- After Rakhi is tied to brothers’ hand, they gift their sisters with presents of their own choice or sisters’. In return, sisters make them eat traditional Indian sweets and chocolates with their own hands. And then brothers do the same, helping their sisters break the fast they keep until the Rakhi is has been tied.
- The priests and brahmins too, recite a mantra while tying threads around their patrons’ right hands and receive gifts in return. The recitation of the mantra is an act to charge to thread with the power of protection.
- The festival is also celebrated in South India, albeit in a different way. Here, it is known as Avani Avittam. The holy thread known as Upanayna, a new one, is first worshipped with saffron and turmeric and then is replaced with the old one. The old one is then thrown away in the water of a pool or river. This change in thread represents liberation of ancestors’ souls and for a young Brahmin boy who has been recently tied with it, it represents great significance.
- In Mumbai, decorations and fairs are set up at various places on this auspicious occasion, coconuts are offered to the sea–god Varuna. Exchange of sweets and gifts on this day are also among the common traditions. Sisters also send the rakhis to their brothers via post. The city is.