Raksha bandhan or rakhi is celebrated on fullmoon day in the month of shravan (August). It’s the day when brother and sister reaffirm their affectionate bond. It symbolizes the sister’s love and prayer for her brother’s well being and brother’s lifelong vow to protect her. It is typically a Hindu festival but nowadays people from different faiths celebrate it too. This holy festival has crossed the territorial boundaries and is being widely celebrated throughout the world.
ORIGIN AND SIGNIFICANCE
The origin of raksha bandhan can be traced back to the mythological times which recount many stories. The prosperous Indian mythology provides many religious reasons to celebrate the day. The most popular is that of goddess Lakshmi and King Bali :
Deity Lakshmi tied a rakhi onto the wrist of the king Bali from the hell thus making him her brother and liberate lord Vishnu. That day as per the Hindu lunar calendar was sharavan purnima.
Another story signifies the promise of love and protection is that of lord Krishna and draupadi, wife of padavas:
On day of sankranti lord Krishna managed to cut his little finger while handling sugarcane. Rukmini, his queen immediately sent his helper to get a bandage cloth. Draupadi who was watching all of this rather simply tore off a part of her sari and bandaged his finger. In return for this deed Krishna promised to protect her in time of distress.
There are several historical evidences which remind us about the significance of this festival.
One of the earliest instances of rakhi tying happened in 326 BC when the battle between Alexander the great and Hindu king porous took place. The practice of tying thread was traditionally prevalent in the Indian history.
The widow queen of Chittor rani karnavati sent rakhi to the great mughal emperor Humayun seeking his help during the invasion of Gujarat king Bahadur Shah.
The noble laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore used the occasion as a community festival to spread the nationalist spirit among people from different ethnic backgrounds.
The above evidences show that the festival is all about bonding and protection not just for self but also for dear ones for a peaceful existence of human race.
TRADITION AND RITIUALS
The frangible thread of raksha bandhan is considered even stronger than an iron chain and it’s strongly binds a brother and a sister in the circumferences of mutual love and trust. The ritual begins with the decorated thali with a lighted lamp, turmeric, roli, rice, rakhi and sweets. Firstly a short wooden stool is placed for brother to be seated, sister applies tilak of roli to the brother’s forehead, now ties the rakhi on the right wrist of brother, after tying the rakhhi ,lamp aarti is waved in a semi circle in front of the brother. Then they share and eat sweets, brother gives his sister gifts and pledge to protect her. If the sister and brother are geographically separated the sister may mail the rakhi ahead of raksha bandhan.
Because of india’s broad cultural spectrum Raksha bandhan celebration differs from place to place across the country.
NORTH INDIA : In north india it is also known as kajri purnima, the farmers start the sowing of wheat on this day and pray for a good crop. In uttranchal it is celebrated as sharavani purnima which is important for Brahmins, on this day they change their holy thread called the janeyu or the yajnopavit amidst the chanting of mantras.
SOUTH INDIA: In tamilnadu, kerala and Orissa it is celebrated as Avani , Anittam(Upaakarma), for the fisherman the fishing season starts now people begin their voyages on the day assured that the seas have calmed down and it is an auspicious day.
WESTERN INDIA: It is popularized by the name of nariyal purnima particularly in maharastra it is devoted to the rain god Indra and sea god Varuna.
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