What is Raksha Bandhan?

Indian culture is famously known for its ancient rich culture and traditions throughout history. Among many sacred rituals and fun festivals, one of the more well-known ones is Raksha Bandhan, which has deep-rooted historical significance.  

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the last day of Shravana (fifth month of the Hindu calendar), on a full moon, which is usually in August. In India, the markets during this time are typically flooded with colorful Rakhis and gifts. In Sanskrit, Raksha Bandhan means the ‘tie of protection’ of the bond between a brother and sister. In the olden days, it symbolizes a sister’s need for her brother’s protection, and his duty to defend her, but thankfully now we have economic empowerment and kickboxing classes so we can all protect each other. 

To celebrate this festival, the sisters tie Rakhi (a colorful red bracelet) around their brother’s wrist. The Rakhi is made from bright silk and cotton threads, adorned with beads and gold. And if you’re a really good sister, you’ll find the shiniest, piece of aluminum foil that your brother can proudly display all year long. 

The story associated with Raksha Bandhan is mentioned in one of the versions of the Mahabharata. During one of the wars, Lord Krishna was hurt and cut his finger. Seeing his bleeding finger, Draupadi tore off a strip of her saree and tied around his injured finger to stop the bleeding. Moved by her sisterly affection and love, Lord Krishna promised to protect her for a lifetime. Another reason to consider not wearing yoga pants all day.

There are several other stories that refer to Rakhi, like this one and this one but we’re going to keep it positive focus on Draupaudi’s quick thinking for today.

To celebrate, several items are needed like Rakhi threads, Kumkum powder, rice, diyas, agarbattis (incense sticks), and sweets of which are gathered on a thali (plate). The festival starts by performing traditional Aarti with prayers for the well-being of the entire family. After finishing the prayer, the sister marks his brother’s forehead with a tilak (a colorful mark on the brother’s forehead) and ties the Rakhi (the colorful sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist. She then prays for his health, happiness, and prosperous future. After tying the Rakhi, the sister offers sweets to her brother. In return, he gives her a present. Families also wear their finest traditional clothes.

This festival of Rakhi is meant to bring the entire family together and celebrate sibling or cousin bonds. Note, the ritual of Raksha Bandhan is not limited to siblings or cousins by blood or biologically. Women and girls can tie Rakhi to their loved ones or friends of any race and religion.

Rakhi Bandhan has served as a union between different cultures and religions. Raksha Bandhan has proved as the symbol of mutual unity and protection between the Muslim, Hindus, and Sikhs in ancient times. Raksha Bandhan conveys the message of peace, unity, affection, and respect and we hope it continues to do so.

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