Raksha Bandhan is an annual festival in the Hindu calendar that usually falls in the month of August or September. The tradition celebrates the love and strong bond between a brother and a sister. While Raksha Bandhan's importance remains constant, its symbolism is evolving as per changing times.
Raksha Bandhan signifies a bond of security and protection. On this auspicious day, sisters tie a sacred thread on their brother's wrist. It signifies that the siblings will help each other in times of need; the brother protects the sister from any external threats and the sister supports her brother with love and strength.
When is Raksha Bandhan in 2022?
The Hindu culture follows its own lunisolar calendar called the Panchanga, which differs a lot from the Gregorian solar calendar. Which is why the festival dates are not always consistent.
This year, Rakhi 2022 falls on the 11th of August, in the auspicious month of Shravan. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Shravan.
P.S A month in the Panchanga calendar is from one new moon to another new moon.
What is the meaning behind the rakshabandhan tradition?
Although in modern and post-modern ages, the meaning of Raksha Bandhan is mostly confined to celebrating the relationship between siblings, the origins of the tradition tell us a different story.
There are numerous stories in mythology where a person ties a sacred amulet or talisman to another person's wrist as a prayer to God for their safety. In one story, Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity and wealth) ties a thread on a demigod King Bali to liberate her husband Vishnu from his vow to stay with the king.
In a story of the Bhavishya Purana (a book of traditions and futurology of Hindu culture), it is said that Sachi, the wife of God Indra (the king of Gods), ties a holy cotton thread on his wrist for power and protection from enemies during a war between Gods and demons.
In one more anecdote from Bhavishya Purana, where Lord Krishna (an incarnation of God Vishnu) is telling the son of Kunti (referred to as Partha) about the protective powers of tying a thread on his right hand.
Apart from these mentions, there is a popular story that directly talks about the significance of Raksha Bandhan as we know it. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi (the daughter of Drupad and wife of the Pandavas) tears the end of her saree to tie the cloth on the bleeding finger of Krishna. In return, Krishna gives his word to her to protect her from anything in the future, hence developing the purest relationship of all between a man and a woman. It is never explicitly written that the bond is that of siblings, so there can be many interpretations, similar to the bond between siblings.
How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated?
On the day of Raksha Bandhan, a sister adorns and cleanses the aura of a brother (or cousin) with a pooja thali that has a diya, haldi (turmeric powder), kumkum (vermillion), rice grains, and sweets. Some households also include a golden ring, a betel nut, and cotton in the pooja thali. During the most auspicious hours of Raksha Bandhan, the sister applies a teeka on her brother's forehead and ties a rakhi on his right wrist. This year, the auspicious time is from 06:07 AM to 05:59 PM.
Modern Raksha Bandhan customs
Nowadays, Raksha Bandhan is not limited to a celebration between just the brother and sister; all siblings and cousins, may it be two brothers or two sisters, celebrate their bond and vow to love and protect each other from evil. Even a wife ties a rakhi on her husband's wrist in some beliefs.
Traditionally, the brother gifts the sister something on the occasion. Today, more and more siblings both exchange gifts in the spirit of the occasion.
Have any Raksha Bandhan rituals that you're fond of? Let us know in the comments.