Raksha Bandhan is one of the main festivals in the Hindu religion. Although it is celebrated across India, it holds a special reference for those belonging to the northern and western parts of the country. As per the Hindu calendar, Raksha Bandhan falls in Shravan maas also known as the Sawan month. It is celebrated on the last day of the Shravan mass which mostly falls in the month of August. The entire month of Sawan is considered to be auspicious as per the Hindu religion.
The priests in the country announce the special time for tying rakhi on the day of Raksha Bandhan. It is time for the ladies to adorn beautiful attires and get ready for the occasion. They are mostly seen wearing ethnic ensembles with matching accessories and footwear. Men are also seen donning traditional Indian attire. The atmosphere is filled with love and joy. The ritual begins with sisters applying tilak on their brothers’ forehead. They then tie rakhi on their brothers’ wrist and exchange sweets. Sisters wish for the well being of their brothers as they carry out the ritual. Brothers give gifts to their sisters and promise to take care of them in every situation. It is not only a special day for brothers and sisters but is also a great occasion to bond with other family members.
The advancement in technology has also helped in bringing the loved ones together on this day. The siblings living in distant lands can connect with each other via video call. Those who are unable to visit each other on rakhi celebrate the festival by seeing each other virtually on phone or laptop these days.
Women are especially quite excited about Raksha Bandhan as it is time for them to shop and adorn beautiful dresses and accessories. Men, on the other hand, look forward to meeting their sisters and cousins. Raksha Bandhan is known by different names in different parts of the country however the essence of the festival remains the same and that is to celebrate the sacred brother-sister bond.
Raksha Bandhan: Historical References
Several folklores have been presented on how this festival came into being and the significance it held for various famous personalities. Here are some of the historical references of the festival:
Alexander the Great
It is said that when Alexander invaded India, his wife was extremely anxious about his well-being. She sent a sacred thread to Porus, requesting him not to harm Alexander. Keeping with the tradition, Porus refrained from attacking Alexander during the battle. He respected the Rakhi sent by Roxana. This event dates back to 326 BCE.
The legend of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun also emphasises the significance of this sacred ritual. It is said that Rani Karnavati of Chittor, who was a widowed queen, asked for Emperor Humayun’s help by sending him Rakhi. She did so when she realised that she could not save her kingdom from Bahadur Shah all by herself. Humayun respected the rakhi and sent his troops to fight against all odds and save Chittor.
Choosing the Right Gift for Raksha Bandhan
The market is flooded with a variety of gifts around this time. From clothes to footwear to accessories to home décor items– there is so much variety in each of these that it becomes difficult to pick one among these. The brothers often seem confused about what to gift to their sisters as it is a difficult choice to make. They often roam around the market looking for that perfect gift for their sisters to light a smile on their face. Choosing the right gift is indeed a big task during this festival.
So it is not just the ladies who visit the market and shop endlessly during the time men also invest a good amount of time looking for gifts for their beloved sisters.
Another Festival That Celebrates Brother Sister Bond
Just like Raksha Bandhan, Bhai Duj is another festival that is celebrated to strengthen and rejoice the brother-sister bond. The sisters apply tilak on their brothers’ forehead on this day and pray for their well being. The brothers pledge to be by their sisters’ side at all times. They exchange sweets and the brothers present their sisters with gifts. People dress up in ethnic wear to add to the spirit of the festival. It is not just a time to bond with one’s brothers and sisters but also with other family members.