Raksha Bandhan is a unique Hindu festival marking the love and affection between brothers and sisters. The name itself describes the festival where Raksha means “protection,” and Bandhan means “bond” meaning “a bond of protection.”
It’s a day of celebration and prayers. On this day sisters tie colorful threads/’Rakhi’ on their brother’s wrist and pray for their long life. On the other hand, brother promises to protect her from any harm and shower her with gifts. A day full of festivity and pure joy.
WHEN IS RAKSHA BANDHAN CELEBRATED?
According to Hundi Calendar Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on Shravan Purnima, the full moon night, in August. It celebrates the most sacred relationship – an inseparable bond between a brother and sister. A day marked with happiness and excitement, especially for young girls and women.
WHY IS RAKSHA BANDHAN CELEBRATED?
There are many legends associated with regards to the celebration of Raksha Bandhan.
LEGEND- 1 – King Indra – Origin of Raksha Bandhan is not known.
There is a popular legend, which says that once there was a fierce battle between the gods and the demons. In this battle, the demons seemed to be in a winning position. Indra, the king of gods, went to Bruhaspathi and asked for help. Meanwhile, Indrani (wife of Indra) came up with an idea, and she assured them of turning the battle in their favor.
Next day was Shravan Poornima. She consulted some old scriptures and prepared a sacred string called Raksha, which she tied to her husband’s wrist. Next day with the rope tied to his hand, Indra went to the battlefield and defeated demons who were so powerful.
Ever since, on Shravan Poornima day, the tradition of tying a thread began. It was believed that the person who ties this thread would be blessed with health, wealth, happiness, and victories.
LEGEND – 2- Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali – Read all about King Bali here
LEGEND – 3- Maharani Karnavati and Humayun
According to another popular legend, queen of Chittor, Maharani Karnavati, had to face the threat of Governor Bahadur Shah who laid siege on her kingdom. Unable to fight his army, she sent out a rakhi to the Mughal king, Humayun (the Muslim emperor ) and asked for his help.
Humayun, who was in the middle of another invasion, was overwhelmed by emotions when he saw Maharani Karnawati’s Rakhi. He abandoned his mission and turned towards Chittor. But he was unable to reach on time, and Bahadur shah invaded Chittor. To save her honor, Maharani Karnavati along with all the women in the fortress performed Jauhar (mass suicide) by then.
Learning about Jauhar, Humayun became furious. He fought, and evicted Bahadur Shah and his men from Chittor and restored the kingdom to the queen son, Vikramajeet Singh. Over time, however, the significance of rakhi moved on from battlefields to personal relations reflecting the bond of faith and affection.
Sisters tied rakhi to their brothers, asking for protection and also prayed for their brothers’ welfare. The latter vows to take care of them even if it called for some sacrifice on their part. This was considered a sign of good omen and women believed that this sacred thread would protect their men from the enemy’s blow and bring them victory.
HOW IS RAKSHA BANDHAN CELEBRATED?
As per the custom for all Indian festivals and pujas, the lady of the house gets up early in the morning, dresses up in beautiful clothes, cleans and decorates the puja room. She prepares puja thali with diya, roli, rice, flowers, coconut, and rakhis. After the puja, women/daughter of the house applies “teeka” on his brother’s forehead.
Then they adorn this teeka with some rice and ties Rakhi on her brother’s wrist and finally make him eat some sweets or “mithai.” They hug and acknowledge this relationship by accepting it with grace and love.
With this Rakhi, she bestows deep affection and blessings on her brother(s). She prays to God Almighty to guard her brother(s) against all harm and to give the very best to her brother(s). In return, sisters are showered with gifts and presents.
Celebration of Raksha Bandhan is marked by happiness and excitement, especially for young girls and women and is celebrated with gaiety by the rich and the poor alike. Whatever be the constraints, sisters and brothers abide by this tradition, and it strengthens the bond of love between them.
RECIPES FOR RAKSHA BANDHAN
ANGOORI GULAB JAMUN – Small spongy pearl-shaped anguri/angoori gulab jamun are prepared with mawa and soaked in sugar syrup.
KAJU PISTA ROLL – Cashew and Pistachio flavored sweet Indian delicacy. A must-have on any Indian festival.
PISTA ICE CREAM – Homemade whipped cream mixed with condensed milk creates a rich, creamy and velvety ice cream.
KAJU KATLI – A popular Indian festive sweet prepared with cashews and sugar syrup.