Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that celebrates the relationship of a brother and a sister. It has got its name from Sanskrit and it means “the tie or knot of protection”. The festival falls on the full moon day of the Shravan month of the Hindu Lunisolar calendar which usually occurs sometime during August.
The festival is celebrated differently according to varied customs across the country. The sisters indulge in shopping for the thread (Rakhi) a week or two before the day of Raksha Bandhan. The brothers and sisters come together on the morning of Raksha Bandhan. The sister may mail the Rakhi if the sister and brother are geographically separated along with a greeting card or letter. The ritual usually begins in front of a lighted lamp or candle, which signifies fire deity. The sister and brother face each other and the sister ties the Rakhi on her brother’s wrist. After tying the Rakhi, the sister says out a prayer for the brother’s well being and the brother pledges to protect and take care of her under all circumstances for their lives ahead. She then feeds him something sweet and this is said to sweeten the relationsip of brother and sister. Traditionally sweets made in Desi ghee or clarified butter were used but now chocolates, candies and sugar free sweets are used as well. After this the brother gives his sister money/gifts as a token of his love and touches her feet to take her blessings.
There are various myths and stories associated with the occasion.
One of these stories is that of Rani Karnavati and emperor Humayun. When the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor was touched and immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. Though Shah managed to sack the fortress.
Another historical account is Krishna’s and Draupadi. When Krishna cut his finger while beheading Shishupal, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna believed that she wrapped him in debt with this act and he repaid the debt by coming to her rescue whenever Draupadi needed his protection.
But no matter which story you choose to believe in Rakhi is a festival which is loved by all. It is one of those rare days when your entire family comes together and enjoys each oher’s company. This alone is reason enough to rejoice and take a break from our fast paced lives.
Rakhi remains to be a festival that is celebrated by all brothers and sisters of the world with absolute compassion and great vigour. Though the modern generation has customised and adapted the festival in their own manner. People have not forgotten the tradition and customs, but they’ve adapted ways that wouldn’t affect their health or lifestyle. For example, considering the ill effects of sugar , people have stopped exchanging sweets (ghee or milk ). Families have started exchanging fruits and juices.