Raksha Bandhan is a special 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 and on this day sisters tie colorful threads/’Rakhi’ on their brothers wrist and pray for their long life and 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 July / 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 in regards to the celebration of Raksha Bandhan.
LEGEND- 1 – King Indra – Origin of Raksha Bandhan is not really known but there is a popular legend which says that once there was a fierce battle between the Gods and the demons in which 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 string tied to his hand, Indra went to the battle field and defeated demons who were so powerful.
Ever since, on Shravan Poornima day, the tradition of tying a thread began and it was believed that the person who ties this thread would be blessed with health, wealth, happiness and victories.
LEGEND – 2- Maharani Karnavati and Humayun – According to a 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 a 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 Bahudur 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 very furious. He fought, and evicted Bahadur Shah and his men from Chittor and restored the kingdom back to the queen son, Vikramajeet Singh. Over time however, the significance of rakhi moved on from battle fields 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 vowed 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 enemy’s blow and bring them victory.
LEGEND – 3- Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali – Read all about King Bali here.
HOW IS RAKSHA BANDHAN CELEBRATED?
As per the custom for all Indian festivals and pujas, lady of the house gets up early in the morning, dresses up in fine clothes, cleans and decorates the puja room. She prepares puja thali with diya, roli, rice, flowers, coconut, and rakhis. After worshiping the Gods, women/daughter of the house applies “teeka” on his brother’s forehead, apply some rice to it, 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) and 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.