By Priyanka Mahajan
Month of August is filled with a number of festivals and Raksha Bandhan is one of them. This festival falls in the month of Shravan and on a full moon day. The date of Raksha Bandhan in 2013 is August 21. Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakhi, was initially believed to be the festival of North India, but is now celebrated, in many different ways, in other parts of the country also. Raksha Bandhan is a festival wholly dedicated to the divine relationship between a brother and his sister. Thus, Raksha Bandhan puts emphasis on the brightness of Indian culture, where each relationship is given importance and the existence of every relationship is celebrated. Raksha Bandhan is a strong symbol of love and affection between siblings. In 2013 too Raksha Bandhan will bring all the brothers and sisters together to enjoy the day and their pious relationship.
On the Raksha Bandhan day, the sister ties a Rakhi on the hands of his lovable brother. Rakhi is a simple thread but it communicates the pure bond of love of a brother for his sister and also of a sister for his brother. Thus it holds a great significance in the life of both. Tying the Rakhi on her brother's hand, the sister showers all the blessings and happiness of her life over him. The brother, in turn, promises his sister to keep her happy and takes pledge to protect her from all the evils.
The Rakhi Rituals : Traditional Customs in Raksha Bandhan
On the Raksha Bandhan day, both brother and sister sit facing each other. They wear traditional dresses which add to the beauty of this day. The sister prepares an 'Aarti Thaali' containing red kumkum, rice or akshat and a diya. Then after performing the pooja and aarti, the sister applies tilak on the forehead of his brother and ties the rakhi on his wrist. Then she prays for his brother's goodness and wellness. In return, the brother gives her sister various Rakhi gifts. The gifts can be anything like a dress, jewellery, toys, cash, but, the main aim of every brother, by offering these gifts to her sister, is to make her feel good as well as happy. Sister, then also offers sweet to her brother, indicating their sweet relationship. It is not necesary that sisters only get the rakhi from the market but some of them enjoy making a rakhi all by themselves.
Nowadays, Rakhi comes in different designs and colors. Materials like glitters, beads, pearls, feather fibres etc. are used. Rakhis come in all the ranges. Some are very expensive also. For example: Rakhis also come in gold and silver metal. Though these Rakhis are expensive but they are durable ones and also add glamour to the festival. But even a simple thread tied on this day by a sister to her brother communicates the original message of love and affection in their relationship. Then, all the above mentioned rituals are also performed to god, in order to receive the blessings of god and to protect their relationship from all the troubles and hurdles.
Some brothers-sisters stay in different parts of the country and even in abroad and thus, cannot tie rakhi, but, they still celebrate this festival with much fervor and excitement. The sister posts an envelope containing a letter, the rakhi and also a kumkum packet. The letter written by her has, on it, all the blessings that she, with all the love and care sends her brother with that rakhi. Thus, festival of Raksha Bandhan is the symbol of immense strength of love and bond between the brother and sister.
Raksha Bandhan: The Historical Significance
There is a popular story of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal emperor Humayun, behind the celebration of this divine festival. During 1535, Rani Karnavati, who was the widowed queen of king of Chittor felt that she was unable to fight against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujrat, Bahadur Shah. So she sent a Rakhi to Humayun, the Mughal emperor. This lovable gift touched the emperor's heart and he promised Karnavati to protect her from every evil. Humayun was very well aware about the importance of Rakhi in Hindu community and accepted Karnavati as his sister and then he immediately set off with his troops to fight against Bahadur Shah, to defend Chittor.