Raksha Bandhan (Rakhi) Festival – Date, Origin, Significance, Celebration
Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakhi Festival, is an annual Hindu religious festival. Raksha Bandhan means ‘Bond that protects” and is meant to celebrate the bond, love, affection, liking, affection, duty and protection that exists between brothers and sister – not just biological brothers and sisters but anyone who feels a brotherly or sisterly bond with another person.
Though most popular in the northern and western parts of India, Raksha Bandhan festival is celebrated throughout India and Nepal. It is part of the Hindu calendar, but overtime it has taken a secular form.
When is it celebrated?
Raksha Bandhan festival takes place on the full moon day of Shravana Purnima. This day is also referred to as Shravana purnima or Rakhi purnima in the Hindu religious calendar. The festival occurs annually, in August – though the precise day in August varies from year to year.
2017 Date: In 2017, The Raksha Bandhan festival will fall on Monday, the 7th August, 2017.
2018 Date: In 2018, this festival will fall on Sunday, the 26th day of August, 2018.
Who celebrates this festival?
This festival is celebrated across India by people of all caste and by all creed among the Hindus. It is also celebrated by Indians and Nepalese people living abroad.
Raksha Bandhan is also a Jain festival. On this day, Jain priests distribute bands or bracelets to devotees.
This festival’s origins can be traced back to a number of stories in the ancient Hindu scriptures, all of which relate to the ideas of bonds or ties between people. Indra Dev, and Bali and Goddess Laxmi are two examples. In the former, Indra used a holy thread to protect himself – the precursor of the sacred threads used in the Raksha Bandhan celebrations. In the latter, Goddess Laxmi uses a sacred band to make Bali into her brother so that she can ask him for a favor.
What is its Significance?
- It strengthens the family bond and brings oneness in the family. It strengthens the bond that exists between either biologically related brothers and sisters or any given brother-sister type of co-existence. Once the Rakhi is tied on the brother’s wrist, there is exchange of hugs and gifts between them. This brings not only them but the whole family together as one.
- Symbol of love: The rakhi is a symbol of love and care that the sister feels in her heart for her brother. The sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s hand as a sign of love.
- This day is a symbol of protection. The brother is expected to make promise to protect his sister in all circumstances and honor his brotherly duties.
How is it celebrated?
On the festivities day, there is plenty of dancing, singing, exchange of gifts and sweets as well as performance of certain rituals. On the very day, the following celebrations take place:
Visiting the Temple: On the very day, the family visits the temple while wearing new attires. This is meant to ask for their God’s favor during the celebration.
Performing the Aarti: After visiting the temple, the sister performs the aarti which involves the sister taking a tray which has a candle and rotating it around her brother’s face while narrating sacred prayers for gods to protect her brother against all evils. The prayer also emphasizes on the well-being of her brother, joy and happiness in life.
The Tilak: The sister then goes ahead to apply a tilak on the forehead of her brother while the brother promises to do anything to keep her safe.
Tying the Rakhi on the Brother’s Right Hand Wrist: The Rakhi is a sacred traditional thread (weaved bracelets or bands) that the sister ties on her brother’s right hand wrist. As the festivals concern with bonds, the thread signifies love, trust, and bonding that the sister have for their brothers.
Food: After this, the brother is fed with either sweets or simple bites by his sister.
Gifts and Vows: The brother then vows to always protect his sister. He also hugs and gives different gifts to his sister as they sing and dance to mark the occasion.
Raksha Bandhan is a special day to all since it is meant to bring togetherness and love between sisters and brothers.