People of Indian or Nepalese ancestry will celebrate Raksha Bandhan on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shraavana. Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakshabandhan, or simply Rakhi, is a festival centered around the tying of a thread, bracelet or talisman on the wrist as a form of bond and ritual protection. This year, it falls on 26 August 2018.
The literary works of Hinduism contain many stories of rakhi and Raksha Bandhan. One of them is in Bhavishya Purana. In the war between Gods and demons, Indra – the deity of sky, rains and thunderbolts – was disgraced by the powerful demon King Bali. Indra’s wife Sachi consulted Vishnu, one of the Hindu trinity (Trimurti), who gave her a bracelet made of cotton thread, calling it holy. Sachi tied the holy thread around Indra wrist, blessed with her prayers for his well being and success. Indra successfully defeated the Bali and recovered. This story inspired the protective power of holy thread.
Raksha Bandhan literally means “the bond of protection, obligation, or care.” It is performed principally between brothers and sisters, observed both before and after she gets married, thereby marking her continued relationship with her natal home and brothers. The rite is also found between priests and patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors.
On Raksha Bandhan, sisters of all ages tie a colorful cotton bracelet or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, ritually affirming the bond and support of her brothers. After the rakhi is in place, the brother and the sister pray. The sister them applies a tilak (tikka), a colorful mark on the forehead of the brother, and performs an aarti, a Hindu religious ritual of worship, wishing him a long healthy life. The brother may give his sister(s) gifts or some money, and they may also feed each other with sweets, dry fruits and other seasonal delicacies. Raksha Bandhan traditionally invests the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their sister’s potential care.
If you do not celebrate Raksha Bandhan, you could still share the spirit by having a bonding between brothers and sisters. Have a lunch, a trip, a camping, or any kind of activities together. Promise to always protect and respect each other. After all, brothers and sisters are bonded for life!
How about you? Tell us your favorite Raksha Bandhan activity, or share your most memorable Raksha Bandhan!