Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a festival observed during the full moon in August, known as “Shravan” in the Hindu calendar, to celebrate the immaculate love between brothers and sisters. Raksha means protection and Bandhan means bond; Raksha Bandhan refers to the promise that siblings make to protect each other. This is symbolized by the sister tying a a holy thread- Rakhi – around her brother’s wrist and him vowing to protect and guide her for the rest of her life. The sister also prays for her brother’s protection. This ritual is not limited to biological siblings and is popularly observed between any two people who choose to consider themselves brother and sister.
Customs and Practices:
In India, Rakhi is celebrated as a mark of the strong bond between brothers and sisters. The sister ties a Rakhi on the wrist of her brother, performs an ‘aarti‘, adorns his forehead with a ‘tilak‘, feeds him sweets and prays to God for his well being and success. The brother in turn, promises to protect his sister under all circumstances and gives her a Rakhi gift as a token of his love and affection. While each region might have a different way of celebrating Raksha Bandhan, the spirit of it one and the same.
The Significance of Rakhi
The thread that sisters tie on their brothers’ wrist is known as Rakhi. Rakhi can be anything ranging from a simple thread to a silk thread decorated with beads, designer motifs, studded jewels or even religious symbols. Because this thread symbolizes the care and affection between brothers and sisters it is considered stronger than iron chains, in holding together this bond of love and trust.
Making personalized Rakhis is a fun activity to engage in, especially when there are kids involved. Here’s a video that shows you how you can make one yourself:
If you’re looking for more ideas to spark your creativity, this page has plenty.
The Significance of the Tilak in Raksha Bandhan
The Tilak as we know is recognized as a religious mark mainly in Hinduism. It is considered a blessing from the Lord and a reminder to be righteous in one’s deeds. Sisters apply a tilak on their brother’s forehead for their well being and protection from evil forces.
Rakhi Thali Decoration
Traditionally, the Rakhi thali is the same as the thali prepared for a puja. A Swastika which symbolizes Lord Ganesha is drawn in the middle of the rakhi thali which contains a diya, roli or tika, rice, sandalwood, incense sticks.
The thali or the plate could be of silver, brass or simple steel. Since beetle leaves and banana leaves are considered auspicious a banana leaf can be used to hold the puja ingredients and beetle leaves can be used as a decorative element placed in the center of the thali to give it a festive look.
The History of Raksha Bandhan
There are several stories deep-rooted in Indian mythology that give some indication as to how Raksha Bandhan came to be celebrated. Here are two of them:
Krishna and Draupadi
This goes back to the time of the Mahabharata and is probably the most heard story for Raksha Bandhan. It is said that Lord Krishna had once cut his finger while handling sugar cane; while one of his wives, Rukmani, sent for help, the other, Satyabhama ran to bring a cloth the stop the bleeding. However, Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas immediately tore a piece off her sari and wrapped it around Krishna’s finger to stop the bleeding. Since that day Krishna assumed her as his sister and vowed to protect her and there are stories that depict how he protected her in her times of need.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
Another famous story is of how Rani Karnavati, the queen of Mewar sent a Rakhi to rival, mughal emperor, Humayun and asked him to save her kingdom, Chitoor. Even though Humayun was in the middle of another war he rushed to Chitoor. Unfortunately, Humayan arrived after the Rajputs had accepted defeat and Rani Karnavati committed Jauhar, an act of self-immolation to protect herself from the indignity of falling in the hands of Bahadur Shah. Humayan went on to defeat Bahadur Shah and reinstated Chitoor’s reign on Rani Karnavati’s son Vikramjeet.
Regional Names of Raksha Bandhan
Kajari Purnima:- another name for Raksha Bandhan as celebrated in Chhattisgarh
Rakhi Purnima:- another name for Raksha Bandhan as celebrated on the full moon or purnima or puranmasi of the Shravana month according to the Hindu calendar.
Narali Purnima or Nariyal (coconut) Purnima:- another name for Raksha Bandhan as celebrated in western India, Gujarat, Goa and Maharastra.
Pavitropana:- Some parts of Gujarat state, people celebrate Pavitropana on Raksha Bandhan.
Avani Avittam:- Raksha Bandhan (Shravan Purnima) is celebrated as Avani Avittam in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and parts of Orissa and Maharashtra
Raksha Bandhan Calendar
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon in the month of August and falls on a different date each year. Here are the dates Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated in the coming years:
You can use this recipe (click on the link) to make Sweet Vermicelli Kheer – a hot favorite that everybody looks forward to during Raksha Bandhan.
If you like video demonstrations better, here’s one:
Raksha Bandhan Songs
Raksha Bandhan was not lost on Bollywood. These top 5 bollywood songs on Rakhi will surely add more joy to the occasion!
- Bhaiya Mere Rakhi Ke Bandhan – Movie: Chhoti Bahen (1959), Singer: Lata mangeshkar
- Yeh Rakhi Bandhan Hai Aisa – Movie: Be Imaan (1972), Singer: Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
- Phoolon Ka Taron Ka – Movie: Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Singer: Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
- Behana Ne Bhai Ki Kalai Se Pyar – Movie:Resham Ki Dori(1974), Singer: Suman Kalyanpur
- Behna O Behna Meri Pyari Behna – Movie: Shankara (1991), Singer: Mohd Aziz and Anuradha Paudwal
Top Bollywood movies you must watch with your siblings
Watching sibling themed movies on Raksha Bandhan can be a fun way to celebrate while spending valuable time with your brothers and sisters. Some suggestions:
- Josh (2000), Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Chandrachur Singh
- Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (2008), Stars: Imran Khan, Genelia D’Souza, Manjari Phadnis
- Fiza (2000), Stars: Jaya Bhaduri, Karisma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan
- Hum Saath Saath Hai (1999), Stars: Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan
- Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Stars: Zeenat Aman, Dev Anand, Mumtaz
A great way to express your love for your sibling is to send a rakhi quote with the gift. Here are some hand-picked Rakhi quotes to make your sibling feel extra special.
“Our siblings, they resemble us just enough to make all their differences confusing, and no matter what we choose to make of this, we are cast in relation to them our whole lives long.” – Susan Scarf Merrell
“There is a little boy inside the man who is my brother … Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.” – Anna Quindlan
“My sisters have taught me how to live.” -George Wasserstein
“Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” -Margaret Meed
“A brother is a friend God gave you; a friend is a brother your heart chose for you.” –Proverb
“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.” –Astrid Alauda
Sending a Rakhi to India
If you’re a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) it might seem difficult to recreate the magic of Raksha Bandhan as you experienced it in childhood, but it’s not impossible. While your physical presence cannot be replaced, Oxigen USA can give you more than one way to make your brother or sister feel cherished during the occasion. Thanks to FaceTime, Whatsapp and Skype you can even see their reaction to it, live!
We usually make our Rakhi gifts live in the beginning of August and have a variety of gifts options starting from $5. There are no hidden fees or shipping costs, you only pay the amount you see as the price and for any other extra feature as specified. It’s the best deal you’ll get considering our competitive exchange rate and no fee policy.
If the above traditional gifting options don’t appeal to you, our Digital Gift Cards selection might be just what you’re looking for! Not only are they instantly delivered via email, our gift card options will have you sending them for any occasion.