Raksha Bandhan is the joyful celebrations of the feelings of immense love and admiration that breathes in the relationship of brother and sisters. It is a sense of belonging that both of them hold for each other. Also popularly known as the festival of Rakhi, it is marked by a pious thread that epitomizes the long-lasting bond of siblings and the existence of affection between them. Celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Shravan, this festival is known for its auspiciousness to invigorate your sibling relationship and make it much stronger than ever before. On this day, sisters tie a thread or an amulet on the wrists of their brothers to bless them with a long and healthy life and receive a gift in return from them. This thread also entrusts the brothers with their share of responsibility of caretaking and protecting their sisters for the entire life.
How it is celebrated?
The celebration of Raksha Bandhan in Indian is a grand affair that is popular all over the world. It's all about the sentiments, promises, and merriment among the loved ones. The preparations for this festival commences days before the actual date of the festival. The local markets get flooded with a variety of beautiful Rakhis and other gift items like sweets to add exuberance and glitz in the Rakhi celebrations. Women go on a shopping spree to buy the best ethnic attires to flaunt on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.
The day of Raksha Bandhan gets commenced by sisters taking bath in the early morning, getting ready and then offering their prayers to God. The Rakhi ceremony is usually carried out during the auspicious Muhurat of Aparhna or Pardosh on the day of Rakhi Purnima or Raksha Bandhan. After the Puja, the sisters do the aarti of their brothers, apply kumkum and rice on their foreheads, tie Rakhi around their brother's wrists while chanting hymns, and pray for their well-being. They sweeten their brother's mouths with sweets to add sweetness in the Rakhi celebrations. As a reward to sisters, the brothers pamper their sisters with pleasant Rakhi gifts like money, gadgets, female accessories, clothes, and many more along with a promise of lifelong care and support in all circumstances. After this ceremony, the entire family wallows in the Rakhi celebrations and gorges on the delicious food and sweets.
Celebration of Rakhi across India
India is a renowned country around the world owing to its diverse culture and traditions. The festivals here are big celebrations with so much exhilaration and happiness. With India divided into different states, follows diverse culture and traditions leading to their celebrations in multifarious ways. Such is the case with the festival of Raksha Bandhan; the day of Rakhi Purnima is said to be very auspicious to carry out various rituals in the Hindu religion. Apart from the regular rakhi tying ceremony observed on this festival, there are multiple customs and traditions followed by a diaspora of people celebrating this day in their own ways.
Raksha Bandhan in North India: Rakhi festival is another reflection of rich culture and traditions in the regions of North India like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and other states. Though the festival is celebrated in the traditional way in these states involving a Rakhi tying ceremony performed by sisters and brother, some states also observe other rituals as well based on their customs and traditions.
- Uttarakhand: In Kumaon district of this state, the festival also observes men changing their "Janeyu" threads apart from the usual Rakhi celebrations.
- Jammu: The celebrations of Raksha Bandhan commence a month before the actual day of Rakhi in which people indulge themselves in the kite flying festival. The sky gets covered with colorful and beautiful kites that are flown with the help of the special strings "Gattu Dor" by the locals.
- Rajasthan: The Marwari community of the state observes the tradition of Lumba rakhi in which a sister ties these beautiful Rakhis on the wrists of her brother's wife or Bhabhi. As she is the one who takes great care and prayers for the well-being of her brother so that he can take good care of his sister, therefore, she deserves equal respect and loves just like him from sisters.
- Haryana: The festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as "salono" in this state in which an amulet is tied around the wrist of people by the priests of the temples. The usual ceremony of Rakhi tying is also observed in this region, but the above ceremony is the main attraction of this state on Rakhi Purnima.
Raksha Bandhan in East India: Owing to massive variations in the multilingual Indian culture, the festivals in India have taken new formations and manifestations. In the areas of Odisha and West Bengal, the day of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as a Jhulan Purnima in which people offer their prayers to Lord Krishna and Radha. Women even tie Rakhis on the wrists of their brothers to strengthen their bond with them and to bless them with a long and happy life. All the cities in these states get enraptured in the jolliness of this festival where people can be seen cheerfully participating in the celebrations.
Raksha Bandhan in Central India: The central regions of India like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Jharkhand celebrate the festival of Rakhi as "Kajari Purnima" which involves farmers and mothers. This day in Central India is marked by farmers worshipping Goddess Bhagwati to bless them with a good crop in the season, whereas the mothers perform rituals to bless their sons with a long and healthy life. They collect soil from the fields in cone-shaped cups made with leaves and plant barley seeds in them. They keep these cups in a dark room washed with cow dung and decorated with rice powder. On the day of Rakhi Purnima, they go to a nearby water body, immerse these cups in water, and pray for the long lives of their sons.
Raksha Bandhan in West India: The western states like Gujarat and Maharashtra observe separate rituals on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. In Gujarat, people celebrate this festival as "Pavitropana" on the day of Rakhi Purnima in which they worship Lord Shiva and ask for His blessings. They pour water on the Shivalinga and tie a holy thread around it dipped in Panchgaivya (cow's ghee, milk, curd, urine, and dung) to get rid of their sins and purify their souls.
Rakhi Celebrations in Different Religions & Cultures
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is deeply rooted in Hinduism due to its rich historical and mythological significance. Holding deep importance in terms of love and bond, it has managed to carve its own place in this world owing to its impact on different religious communities. The festival has released itself from the clutches of religious dogmas and has evolved into a universal ceremony for those who acknowledge love and brotherhood in their lives.
Though the religions of Jainism and Sikhism are derived from Hinduism, both of them observe this festival in a different manner. In Jainism, the priests of the temples tie rakhis on the wrists of their devotees, whereas in Sikhism, people celebrate the festival as 'Rakhardi' or 'Rakhari' in its usual manner.
Modern Iteration of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan has a deeper significance rather than just being an auspicious day to celebrate siblinghood. The Rakhi thread holds a special meaning; it is not just a thread, but a string that ties two individuals together having pious thoughts for each other. The festival is no more limited to siblings who are related by blood and has excelled much above that. It can be celebrated with anyone with whom you share a beautiful relationship and friendship. The delicacy of the Rakhi thread signifies the delicacy of the relationships which must be considered precious and watered with love from time to time. The main motive of this festival is to bring people closer who do not share romantic relationships with one another and wish to stay together in all phases of life like siblings.