India is known for its traditional cultures and festivals. Raksha Bandhan is one such festival that is all about affection, fraternity and sublime sentiments. It is also known as Rakhi festival. Raksha Bandhan, however, is more prominent in North India.
Not a single festival in India is complete without the typical Indian festivities, the gatherings, celebrations, exchange of sweets and gifts, lots of noises, singing and dancing. Raksha Bandhan is a regional celebration to celebrate the sacred relation between brothers and sisters. Primarily, this festival belongs to the north and western region of India but soon the world has started celebrating this festival with the same verse and spirit.
The Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
Relationships are the essence of any festivity and it holds true for any Indian festival. Each occasion brings the family together which calls for a celebration. Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of one such relation – that of a brother and a sister. This relationship is nowhere so celebrated as in India. Raksha Bandhan is a festival which celebrates the bond of affection between brothers and sisters. It is a day when siblings pray for each others’ well-being and wish for each others’ happiness and goodwill.
The name ‘Raksha Bandhan’ suggests ‘a bond of protection’. On this propitious day, brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles and the sisters pray to God to protect their brother from all evil. The festival falls on the Shravan Purnima which comes generally in the month of August. Sisters tie the silk thread called Rakhi on their brother’s wrist and pray for their well-being and brothers promise to take care of their sisters.
Raksha Bandhan – Traditions & Customs
On the day of Rakhi festival, the sister ties Rakhi on the wrist of her brother and both make prayer to God for the well-being of each other. Sisters perform ‘aarti’ and put tilak on the forehead of her brother. In return, brothers make a promise to take care of his sister under all circumstances. Usually, brothers gift something to the sister to mark the occasion. The mirth that surrounds the festival is unsurpassed. Amidst the merriment, the rituals are also followed with great devotion.
Preparation of Raksha Bandhan Festival
Generally, the fancy Rakhis and delicious sweets are prepared long before the Shravana Purnima. According to the Indian tradition, the family members get ready for the rituals early in the morning. They take a bath to purify mind and body before starting any preparations. Sisters prepare the puja thali which consists of roli, tilak, Rakhi threads, rice grains, aggarbattis (incense sticks), diyas and sweets. After offering the rituals to the deities of the family, the sister performs aarti of their brothers and ties Rakhi on their wrist. Then, they put kumkum powder on the forehead of their brother and offer sweets. All these rituals take place amid the chanting of the following mantras:
“Suraj shakhan chhodian, Mooli chhodia beej
Behen ne rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee”,
Which means “The sun radiates its sunlight, the radish spreads its seeds,
I tie the rakhi to you O brother and wish that may you live long.”
After her prayer for a long life for her brother, she says that she is tie the ever-protective Raksha to her brother’s wrist and chants:
“Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala”
This means,” I tie you the rakhi that was tied to king Bali, the king of Demons,
O Rakhi I pray that you never falter in protecting your devotee.
In return, brothers pamper and blesses the sisters and promises to protect her from all the evils of this world. He also presents a token of his love and affection as a Rakhi gift. The rituals performed on Raksha Bandhan may differ from place to place, but they carry the same aura throughout the globe.