Rakhi Purnima or Raksha Bandhan a Bond of Protection

Raksha Bandhan Brother Sisters Day

Rakhi Purnima is a major Hindu festival of India which is celebrated on the Full moon day(Purnima) of the Hindu month of Shravana as 'Shravana Purnima'(July-August)throughout India and abroad as women tie Rakhi or amulet on the wrists of their brothers for their well being. This festival is also known as "Raksha Bandhan" or "Shravana Purnima".Raksha bandhan is a historic festival, mostly celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. This festival symbolizes the sacred relation between brothers,sisters,and cousins of all age groups with no difference of caste,creed and religion. This frail thread of Rakhi among all the ornaments is the most beautiful one,  wore on the day of Raksha Bandhan, and also the strongest of all the metal chains(gold or silver) which strengthens the inseperable bond of love and trust between sisters and brothers.
Rakhi Purnima or Full Moon Day
Rakhi Purnima or Full Moon Day
India being the treasure house of different cultures and festivals has no day left without the typical Indian festival be it on their gatherings, celebrations, exchange of sweets and gifts to each other, and also with lots of music and dance all through the day. Rakhi festival has a social significance which underlines the notion that everybody should live in harmonious coexistence with each other and became the integral part of those customs.
What is Rakhi?
Rakhi or Amulet: It is a sacred thread tied on the wrist of brothers by sisters to strengthen their bond with love and affection towards each other on the day of Shravana Purnimain the month of Shravana according to Hindu calendar.
Origin of Raksha Bandhan on Purnima:
This festival is celebrated from ancient times in the North and West region of India, and slowly got adopted to the people living all over the country and by the Indians residing throughout the World.The festival got a modern look in this era in terms of exchanging gifts to one another but the celebration is the same as was in the past. It was about 3000 B.C.that the Aryans who entered India through the northwestern passes and settled in northwestern India,brought this traditional custom, Raksha Bandhan. It was one of the traditions among the Aryans to have a 'Yagyna' (sacrificial ceremony) before a war to invoke God's blessing for protection and security. It was then when the men departed for the battlefield the women-folk use to 'Tilak' them and tie an anointed sacred thread or amulet on the wrist of their husbands and brothers for their well-being and victory in war, and named as Raksha Bandhan.
Sister tieing Rakhi to Brother on Raksha Bandhan
Sister tieing Rakhi to Brother on Raksha Bandhan
How is Rakhi prepared?
Rakhi can be prepared of different types and ranges from a silk thread with cotton balls around them. Materials used to prepare Rakhi are saturn ribbons, beads,glue,fancy rakhis like decorative symbols of gods,flowers and images of their interest in ones own pattern. Nowadays Rakhi's are available in the form of wrist watches combinations in market, which is tied with love and affection on the wrist of their brothers. Rakhi's come in many colors, but Rakhi's made with safron, red and orange are the most common. Sometimes above the thread are colorful decorative pieces sticked with glue.
Rakhsa Bandhan Celebrations:
One can see the streets and their shops with colourful Rakhi stalls gearing up for this event from a month long preparations as every shop, be it sweet shops, garment shops, gift shops, or any other shop, all are flooded with attractive rakhi gifts to attract people. The brothers who live far apart in other states or countries are sended in advance the Rakhi's to tie on their wrist on the day of Raksha Bandhan. This is the day which brings siblings even more closer to one another and is the main occassion on which they try to reach out to each other to evoke the brotherhood and sisterhood feelings,by expressing their emotions and call for a celebration by reuniting the family members on this joyous occassion.
Colourfull Rakhi's hung in a stall
Colourfull Rakhi's hung in a stall
On this day both the sisters and brothers wear new clothes and sisters prepare their own handmade Rakhi's to tie on the wrist of their brothers also called as an amulet. The name 'Raksha Bandhan' suggests 'A Bond of Protection' as "Raksha" means protection, and "Bandhan" means bound or binding. On this day sisters residing anywhere come to their brothers house and tie the Rakhi's on their hand. A special 'Puja Thali' is decorated with diya, kumkum(roli), rice, rakhi thread and sweets.The ritual begins with a prayer in front of God, and  the sister ties Rakhi on her brothers wrist they pray for his well being - good health, prosperity and happiness. This is continued with an aarti, where a tray with lighted lamp which is rotated around the brother's face, along with the prayer and well wishes,then done the 'Tilak'(kumkum and rice) on the forehead of their brothers which is an important part of the whole ritual,after which the sister ties Rakhi to her brother on his wrist by chanting of mantras for his well-being and happiness throughout his life. In turn, the brother acknowledges her with the love and promise to stand by her sister through all the good and bad times of her life by presenting gifts may it be in the form of clothes, accessories,money or electronic items like mobile phones,tablets, PC's, etc.. which is called as 'Shagun' or a 'Return gift'. The gift symbolizes the physical acceptance of her love, reminder of their togetherness and his pledge.
A decorative Puja thali on Raksha Bandhan
A decorative Puja thali on Raksha Bandhan
Here is an examples of a Rakhi prayer from Vishnu Purana, in Chapter V: It was the prayer sung by Yashoda while tying a Raksha Bandhan amulet on Krishna's wrist. The prayer is as follows:
May the lord of all beings protect you,
May the one who creates, preserves and dissolves life protect thee,
May Govinda guard thy head; Kesava, thy neck; Vishnu, thy belly;
the eternal Narayana, thy face, thine arms, thy mind, and faculties of sense;
May all negativity and fears, spirits malignant and unfriendly, flee thee;
May Rishikesa keep you safe in the sky; and Mahidhara, upon earth.
Nowadays, in this modern era those siblings who are not able to meet each other, express their feelings towards their siblings by sending rakhi's and e-rakhi cards to them through mails which perform the part of communication through Internet by sending rakhi messages. Some prepare handmade rakhis and rakhi greeting cards for this day which are just representation of the personal feelings of the siblings.
Happy Raksha Bandhan Greeting Cards
Happy Raksha Bandhan Greeting Cards
In North the Central India,Madhyapradesh,Chattisgarh,and some parts of Uttarpradesh celebrate Rakhi purnima as 'Kajri Purnima' or 'Kajri Navami'. This festival is mainly celebrated and significant for the farmers as it signifies the beginning of the season for sowing barley and wheat. Goddess Bhagwati is worshiped on this day after sowing the seeds for good crop. People of Gujarat offers 'Jal'(water) to Lord Shiva and pray for his forgiveness. On Rakhi purnima a special ceremony is observed known as ‘Pavitropana’ which is made up of a few filaments of cotton soaked in mixture of cow's ghee, milk, curd, urine and excreta, called as panchagaivya and then fastened around Shiva Linga.
Offering water to Lord Shiva on Kajri Purnima by Gujaratis
Offering water to Lord Shiva on Kajri Purnima by Gujaratis
In South India,  Andhra pradesh,Tamilnadu,Kerala,Maharashtra and Orissa celebrate Rakhi Purnima as 'Avani Avittam' or 'Janjyala Pournami' the day belonging to 'Brahmins'. It is the special day for worship and chanting of 'Gayathri Mantra', by Brahmins and conduct pujas on the day. The day starts with the holy bath and then removing their holy thread (Janeyu) and put on a new one while chanting the Vedic mantras. The Janeyu or Yagynopavit is a sacred thread wore by Brahmins made up of three rounds and represents the vow for adherence to vedic culture, observance of Hindu traditions and service to humanity. They take a vow to perform all the duties of a Brahmin as said in the books and adopt good conduct and dignity. This festival marks the cleansing of the mind of all-evil and thus known as Shravani or Rishi Tarpan or Janjyala Pournami or Upa Karma.
Janjyala Pournami or Avani Avittam in South India on Rakhi Purnima
Janjyala Pournami or Avani Avittam in South India on Rakhi Purnima
In West part of India, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Rakhi is celebrated as 'Nariyal Purnima' or  'Coconut full moon'. It falls in the month of Shravana, which symbolises the end of monsoon season and marks the beginning of the new fishing season for the fishermen as they avoid going into waters before this and is very significant for the 'Fishing community', which is completely dependent on the sea for its livelihood. On this day they throw coconuts in water or sea as a form of worship to sea God and as a symbol of thanksgiving to 'Lord Varuna' to seek his blessings. Prasadam of Coconut rice is prepared on this day.
Nariyal Purnima Celebration on Rakhi Purnima
Nariyal Purnima Celebration on Rakhi Purnima
Significance of Raksha Bandhan:
Raksha Bandhan is an auspicious day to celebrate the sacred relation of a brother and a sister showing true affection towards each other. There are many examples in history where in Rakhi considered as a "Raksha" or "Protection". It can be tied by wife, a daughter,sister or mother. The Rishis tied rakhi to the people who came seeking for their blessings. The Sages tied the sacred thread to themselves to safe guard them from the evil. In Puranas, Raksha Bandhan is described as the 'Punya Pradayak'or the day that bestows boons to the generous and as 'Vish Tarak' (the destroyer of venom or the vicious) and 'Pap Nashak' or 'Papa Todak' (the destroyer of sins) which ends all sins.
'Rabindra Nath Tagore' was the first who started gathering of people like 'Rakhi Mahotsavas' in Shantiniketan to propogate the feeling of brotherhood among people by unity and a commitment to all members of society to protect each other and encourage/ a harmonious Social life. He believed that the this will invoke trust and feeling of peaceful coexistence and would be the way to harmonize the relationship of humanity. The tradition continues as people started tying rakhis to the neighbours and friends.
Some Religious brothers and sisters relation:
1) Krishna and Draupadi in Mahabharata, where krishna saved draupadi during vastra haran.
2)King Bali and Goddess Laxmi,where the name Baleva signifies the might of King Bali and his devotion to lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi.
3)Yama and the Yamuna, where yamuna got immortality after tieing rakhi to yama.
Some Historical brothers and sisters relation:
1)Jagannath and Subhadra relation where Subhadra chants the Jagannatha mantra-Om Jagannathaya Namah.
2)Kans and Devaki relation when Shri Krishna was born after she gave birth to six sons who were killed by Ravana.
3)Ravan and Shurpanaka relation in Ramayana,where Laxman cuts her nose when she asks for Rama's Love in her life.
Image Courtesy: India-forums,123 Greetings,festivaladvices,todaytoptrends,unfoldthecreativity,hindupad and dgreetings.


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