Festivals are intrinsic to Indian culture; each festival has its joy, meaning, significance and story to offer. The excitement, the energy and the enthusiasm with which people celebrate these occasions are impeccable. They flood in the river of madness and faith and create hundreds of memories together; the bonds become new afresh, as happiness overshadows the sky of monotony. The popular and important festivals such as Holi, Diwali and Navratri and festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with equal devotion and joy; since these are the occasions when one feels at home and truly attach to their culture and traditions.
Raksha Bandhan is one such festival when the sweet-bitter bonds of brother and sister strengthen as they share a relation of eternal love and happiness. The festival of Raksha Bandhan also has a lot of fun to offer. Let us see how, when, why and what makes this occasion so special.
What is Raksha Bandhan?
Since their childhoods, everybody eagerly waits for the festival of Raksha Bandhan to come, when the whole family gets together to share eternal love, and not only love but gifts and sweets as well.
But, do you know what Raksha Bandhan is?
According to the Hindu calendar, the celebrations of Raksha Bandhan take place on the full moon day in the month of Shravan. This day is also popular as Siblings Day because it is on this occasion sisters and brothers gather to express their affection for one another and pray for their well-being. It is also a powerful religious occasion of oneness, serving as a symbol of progress and a leading messenger of unity. Brahmins change their sacred thread (janoi) on this day and dedicate themselves once again to the study of the scriptures.
Moreover, Rakhi signifies protection, and in some parts of mediaeval India, whenever women were in threat, they tied Rakhi on the wrists of males whom they considered brothers. Rakhi improves the emotional link between brothers and sisters by reinforcing the affection between them.
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The Legends behind Raksha Bandhan:
Any festival without a legend is like the Indian Flag without the Ashok Chakra. Similarly, the festival of Raksha Bandhan has many myths and stories that associate with it that are prevalent throughout the country, for centuries.
The Legend of Krishna and Draupadi
Rakshabandhan has a long history in Hindu mythology. One of the stories dates back to Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, when Draupadi, the Pandavas’ wife, tore the corner of her sari to stop Lord Krishna’s wrist from bleeding (he had inadvertently hurt himself). This formed a brother-sister bond, and Krishna swore to look after her. Krishna kept his promise and saved Draupadi from chirharan in Kurusava.
Apart from this many stories and myths have found their space in Hindu tales and traditions, such as: –
The Legend of Indra-Indrani:
Rakhi, according to this folklore, is a sacred thread of protection that one can tie not only to brothers for safety but also to those we love. The narrative of Indra and Indrani takes place during the Vedic period, during which there was a fight between Gods and demons. Indra’s companion, Indrani, wrapped a sacred thread around her husband’s wrist to safeguard him from wicked spirits.
The Yamuna tied a sacred thread around her brother Yama’s wrist to keep him safe from his stepmother Chhaya’s curse of death and mutilation. When he revealed his mother’s secret, she became enraged and cursed him, which was lifted after tying Rakhi.
Story of King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi:
On the day of Shravan Purnima, Goddess Laxmi disguising herself as a Brahmin woman tied a rakhi to King Bali. She then came out requesting the monarch to release Lord Vishnu and allow him to return to Vaikunth.
The faith with which every Indian follows these rituals creates a sense of brotherhood and bonds people of various ethnicities together.
Significance of Raksha Bandhan:
Nowadays people usually celebrate Raksha Bandhan as a day to honour the unique bond that exists between a brother and a sister. However, there have been times in history when the use of Rakhi was just as a raksha thread or a form of protection.
A mother, daughter, or wife can also tie a Rakhi. Rishis in earlier days gave a Rakhi to the folks who came to seek their blessings. To protect themselves from evil, the sages knotted the sacred thread to themselves. Thus, it is, without a doubt, the ‘Pap Todak, Punya Pradayak Parva,’ or the day that bestows boons and ends all sins, as the scriptures state.
Previously, the Rakhi celebration was about the warmth exchanged between siblings, but today covers much more. Some individuals associate Rakhi with their neighbours and close friends, symbolising the peaceful coexistence of all people. The day has taken on a new meaning in today’s scenario. The event includes a commitment to pursue moral, cultural, and spiritual ideals for the rest of one’s life.
Raksha Bandhan is a celebration that celebrates all sorts of Raksha, or protection, as well as righteousness and the annihilation of all sin. The Rakhi tying ceremony has grown so essential that brothers and sisters make every effort to see each other on this special day to restore family unity and bind the family together in an emotional link of affection.
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How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated?
Popular with the name of Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi, the festival is predominantly a north Indian festival when all brothers and sisters observe to show their profound emotions, love, and affection to one another. The sister ties a Rakhi around her brother’s wrist and both make a prayer to God for their brother’s well-being. Sisters conduct ‘aarti’ and apply ‘tilak’ to her brother’s forehead. In exchange, the brothers swear to look after their sister in any situation. Typically, brothers give their sister a gift to commemorate the event. The joy that pervades the festival is unrivalled. In the middle of the revelry, the rites are also observed with tremendous devotion.
The elaborate Rakhis and delectable sweets are usually produced well in advance of Shravana Purnima. The family members get ready for the ceremonies early in the morning, according to Indian tradition. The ceremonies that are conducted on Raksha Bandhan may change from place to place, yet they all have the same aura.
Celebrations of Raksha Bandhan across India:
- Narali Purnima in Maharashtra
Maharashtra celebrates Narali Purnima and Raksha Bandhan together because it is a coastal state. On this day of the Shravan full moon devotees make a coconut offering to the sea as a sign of reverence to Lord Varun. The Koli community in the state observes this ceremony. It also marks the start of the fishing season for anglers.
2. Lumba Rakhi in Rajasthan
While most north Indians tie rakhi around their brothers’ wrists and pray for their longevity on this occasion. Sisters in the Marwari and Rajasthani communities, on the other hand, tie rakhi on the bangle of the brother’s wife. Lumba rakhi is the name given to this type of rakhi. Since the wife is the ardhangini, or better half, the community feels that no Raksha Bandhan rite should be performed with her.
3. Pavitropana in Gujarat
In the state of Gujarat, most people offer water to Lord Shiva and seek his blessings on this auspicious day. Those who worship Lord Shiva on this day, according to the community, get rid of all their sins.
4. Gamha Purnima in Odisha
People in Odisha also observe Gamha Purnima on Raksha Bandhan Day, when they decorate and worship the domesticated cows and bullocks. On this day people usually prepare and serve ‘pitha,’ a sweet delicacy of rice paste with coconut filling to their family and friends.
Outfits to wear on Raksha Bandhan
Special outfits on special occasions add a light to the joy of celebration. Raksha Bandhan is an auspicious holiday that also necessitates festive attire. On this day, people get up early in the morning, bathe, and dress up in preparation for the festival. However, individuals occasionally are unable to decide when it comes to selecting an appropriate dress for the event.
When it comes to festive occasions, a classic costume is undoubtfully good. It is nice to dress up for our festivities in traditional garb. When it comes to traditional dress, you can choose from Anarkali suits, sarees, salwar kurtas, and so on.
If you want to stand out on this special day, a combination of traditional and western dress is a good option. You can wear a kurta with jeggings or palazzo and skip the dupatta, or you can wear a kameez with a skirt and skip the dupatta.
On this auspicious occasion, men can also wear traditional kurta pyjamas to celebrate. If you don’t like to dress up too much, a pastel-coloured kurta pyjama will look wonderful on you.
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Quotes on Raksha Bandhan:
- She is someone who cares for me, She is someone who loves me. She is someone who understands me, She is someone who knows my pain, She is my dearest sister! Happy Raksha Bandhan to You!
- You are the best brother who anyone could want I am very happy to have you in my life Thank you for your love, care, and scolding. A very Happy Raksha Bandhan to you.
- A brother is a friend God gave you; a friend is a brother your heart chose for you.
- “There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” -Astrid Alauda
- As we grew up, my brothers acted like they didn’t care, but I always knew they looked out for me and were there! – Catherine Pulsifer
- It takes two men to make one brother. – Israel Zangwill
- A sibling may be the keeper of one’s identity, the only person with the keys to one’s unfettered, more fundamental self. – Marian Sandmaier
- “It’s hard to be responsible, adult and sensible all the time. How good it is to have a sister whose heart is as young as your own.” Pam Brown
- My sister taught me everything I really need to know, and she was only in sixth grade at the time. – Linda Sunshine
- A sister is both your mirror – and your opposite. – Elizabeth Fishel