Raksha Bandhan also known as Rakhi is a popular ceremonial festival celebrated across India. Traditionally, on this occasion sisters tie a Rakhi around their brother’s right hand wrist as a symbol of their binding and to show her affection, trust in him.
In return, the brother promises that he would take care of her in difficult situations and often gives a small gift to her in return. Tying the Raksha Bandhan is not limited to their own brothers, but it can also be given or tied to any person, whom she considers as her brother.
As this festival comes in the auspicious month of Sravana (between July or August) on a full moon day (pournami), it is also commonly referred with the name Rakhi Pournami and the festival occurs ten days after Naga Panchami.
Rakhi is not only confined to India but It is also popular in Nepal and other parts of the world where Hindu culture is predominant. In several parts of North India, this auspicious day also means the beginning of a new farming year.
Raksha means protection and Bandhan means to tie/bond.
Raksha Bandhan actually focuses on the dharma of brother to ensure the safety of his sister at any time.
What is Rakhi and How is it Celebrated?
Just a few days before the Raksha Bandhan many Indian shops, nowadays even online stores get ready with colorful and glittering Rakhi’s to buy. Many people even prepare on their own.
Simply, a Rakhi is a colored thread that includes shiny or glittering materials and may have a decorative medallion in its center.
Coming to the day of Raksha Bandhan, both brother, sister, and the family members dress up early in the morning and perform the ritual by keeping the Rakhi and necessary things before the family deity and later begin the process of tying the Rakhi.
Where the sister would mark a teeka on her brother’s forehead and then lights a diya and gives aarthi to her brother. If the sister is elder to the brother then she would also bless him with holy rice.
Later, she would pray to the god to protect his brother in all situations and finally, she would tie a rakhi around the brother’s wrist.
In return, the brother will ensure that he would take care of her and support her in difficult situations and he may also give some gifts to her as a token of love, which can be anything like jewelry, money, dress, saree or flowers, etc.
During this movement, the sister would also feed a small amount of sweet to his brother in order to remember the movement and to celebrate their bonding. Usually, this auspicious event would bring the entire family to a single place.
Mantra while Tying the Rakhi
There is a tradition of chanting this mantra in some parts of the country while tying a Rakhi
Yena baddho bali-rajaa daanavendro mahabalah
Taena twaam prathibadnaami raksheymaachala maachala
Meaning: (Thus, I tie this Raksha around your wrist) which is the same that bound to the arms of King Bhali of Danavas. I pray, may the protection be all the time.
History of Raksha Bandhan
Initially, the day of Raksha Bandhan is considered as Rakshika Purnima, where any of the family members can tie a sacred string made up of metal or a thread to their family members, relatives, or friends for their protection.
During ancient times, this day of Raksha Poornima(Sravana Purnima) is also popular in Brahmin families. Where they use to change the sacred thread on this day, annually.
Scriptures like Paraskara Grihya Sutra also recommends doing this upakarma on this day.
However, as time goes by, this Rakshika Purnima is thought to be converted into Raksha Bandhan as considered by many historians.
This Raksha Bandhan became so popular during the time of annexations by the Muslim rulers on the Rajput kingdoms.
Where several women of the Rajput kingdom tied a sacred thread to their beloved warriors, whom they trust that they can protect from the invaders. At the same time building a brother-sister status between them. In return, the warriors use to protect such women during the invasion.
The Story of Rani Karnavati of Chittorgarh and Raksha Bandhan
One of the most interesting stories that signify the importance of Raksha Bandhan can be dated back to Mughal times.
When Bahadur Shah of Gujarat tried to capture the kingdom of Chittorgarh, which was under the rule of Rani Karnavati. She sent a Rakhi to Humayan, Emperor of Delhi giving him the status of a brother who can protect her in this situation.
With due respect shown by Rani Karnavathi, Humayan immediately sent an army to Chittor to protect her kingdom at that time.
Later, this custom of tying the Raksha Bandhan became widely popular all over India.
Hindu Stories Related to Raksha Bandhan
Lord Krishna and Draupadi
A story about the Raksha Bandhan closely relates to a story in the Mahabharat. Where Lord Krishna threw a weapon on Shishupala in order to punish him for the sins he committed. But during this process, Lord Krishna hurt his finger while throwing the weapon.
At the time Draupadi tore a piece of her saree and immediately tied it to Krishna’s finger to stop the bleeding. Pleased at her affection, Lord Krishna wished to do any favor and asked her anything she wished for.
However, Draupadi just asked for his presence in difficult situations to protect her. Later, when she was insulted in the kuru sabha, Lord Krishna protected her from the dishonor.
This story signifies the promise of security and trust between the brother and sister.
The Story of Holy Thread tied by Sachi Devi to Indra
Although this story is a bit different from the present days Raksha Bandhan, which is confined to just brothers and sisters. But during the ancient times, there are no such restrictions on who can tie the Raksha or the sacred amulet. As the whole purpose of tying this Raksha is to ensure the protection of their beloved ones.
When the Indra was defeated in a battle by Asuras. Sachi Devi, the consort of Lord Indra tied a holy thread of Raksha ( amulet with divine powers) around his wrist for protection. Later, Indra gained victory over the asuras and recovered his city.
The story related to Raksha in Bhavishya Purana
According to Bhavishya Purana, when Asura’s were defeated by devatas in a war, Asuras expressed their sufferings caused by defeat to their Guru Shukracharya. He then replied to them, devatas were victorious and were protected by the Raksha (mentioning the anklet/thread).
Later even the Asuras too tied these holy threads of Raksha.
Raksha Bandhan Cards
In this digital world, along with the Rakhi, the Raksha Bandhan cards also became so popular in order to express your brother, how much you care about him. These cards usually have decorative designs and include a simple verse.