Raksha Bandhan is glorious Indian festival that celebrates the beauty and sanctity of brother - sister relationship. Rakhi festival falls on the auspicious full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravana or Savana (July - August) hence it is also called Rakhi Purnima. On the day of Rakhi sisters tie a sacred thread called Rakhi or Raksha on the wrist of their brothers and pray for their long life. Brothers bless their sisters and promise to stand by them always. This simple ceremony is being carried out since Vedic times and its popularity seems to be increasing with every passing year.
Legends of Rakhi
There are a number of interesting legends related to Rakhi Festival. It is said that once Gods led by Indra were losing out a battle with Demons led by King Bruta. To gain control over the battle Indra seeked advise of Guru Brihaspati. The sage asked Indra to tie a sacred Rakhi thread powered by mantra on the auspicious day of Shravana Purnima. Heeding the advice, Indras consort Indrani tied the sacred Rakhi thread on Indras wrist at the opportune time. The power of Rakhi helped Gods win the losing battle.
Another significantly popular legend of Rakhi says that the might demon King Bali lost everything he had in keeping his devotion for Lord Vishnu. The festival of Rakhi inspires us to be ready to sacrifice everything in the name of God. The legend also explains why Rakhi festival is also called Baleva at many places.
Raksha Bandhan Celebrations
The joyful spirit of Raksha Bandhan begins to pervade through the country days before the festival. Brothers and sisters staying in different city start making plans for a home visit and anxiously await a family reunion on Rakhi. However, sisters who are unable to meet brothers send Rakhi by post or order it online through various Rakhi shopping sites. Markets too wear a festive look as Rakhi and Rakhi gift stalls mushroom all over selling variety of innovative Rakhis and Gift Hampers.
Rituals of Rakhi
Rituals of Rakhi are simple and sober. Usually the sisters visit the brothers but sometimes brothers are invited at sisters house for Rakhi celebrations. To begin with, a sister worships the family deities to invoke divine blessings. She then applies tika on brothers forehead and places some akshat on this tilak. After taking arti of the brother sister ties a sacred Rakhi thread on brothers right wrist amidst the chanting of a mantra. Brother and sister share a sweet at the completion of the ceremony. As the sister follows the ceremony she secretly prays for brothers well being and prosperity. Brother, in his turn, blesses the sister and promises to stand by her side under all circumstances. An exchange of gifts also takes place between brother and sister adding to the joy of the festival. Best of festive food is enjoyed by the family at the end of the ceremony.
Significance of Rakhi
Rakhis Festival holds a lot of significance for the people of India. The day gives brothers and sisters an opportunity to strengthen their relationship and build stronger family ties. In a joyous and harmonious spirit siblings move back into the past and relive shared childhood memories.
Rakhi festival also stands for universal brotherhood. Today, people tie Rakhi to prisoners and orphans on humanitarian grounds and gift a reason to smile.