Monday, August 19, 2013

Raksha Bandhan | Sacred Threads Festival


Raksha Bandhan is one of the auspicious festivals of Hindu culture which falls on the Purnima Day (Full Moon) of Shravan Month of the Hindu calendar.

It is the festival of celebration of bondage. This bondage is of many types.

But, the two main types of bondage celebrated through this festival are:

1) The bondage between brothers and sisters and,
2) The bondage between child and education.

The entire month of sravana is very important as many celebrations take place throughout this month. Especially for women, this is the month of worshipping Goddess Laxmi. Each Friday of this month is more auspicious when they observe fast and worship Goddess with turmeric and kumkum and flowers and invite ladies and offer them these things along with  fruits, sweets, bangles and cloth pieces as it is believed that the more you offer turmeric, kumkum, and flowers, and other auspicious items of women to the Goddess, the more your husband and family will prosper with happiness and long life.

Raksha Bandhan for Brothers and Sisters




The general people celebrate Raksha Bandhan day widely as a festival of sisters and brothers. It is the festival of love and bondage between brothers and sisters. It is the festival of tying a sacred thread of love, affection, and bondage.

This thread is called as Rakhi or Raksha. The sister ties the sacred thread of Rakhi to her brothers' wrists after applying tilak to their forehead and giving aarati to them.

The sacred thread is first kept in front of God and worshipped and then tied to their wrists. After tying the thread to their wrists,  sweets are also offered to the brothers. The brother, in turn, offers some gift or money to the sister as a token of affection and care for her.

It is a display of love and bondage and a commitment between brothers and sisters. Sisters express their love towards their brothers by praying to God for their well being and the brothers, in turn, wish for their happy and prosperous life. They undertake to protect and guard their sisters throughout their good and bad moments of life.

Raksha Bandhan for Child Education 

Another major ritual observed by people on this Raksha Bandhan day is the ceremony of Upanayana. It is the ceremony of wearing a sacred thread known as janeu or yajnopavita.

This ceremony of Upanayana or Upakarma is best done before the child is sent to a school.

But, most Brahmins and other community people also perform this upanayana of their sons favorably on this day of Raksha Bandhan as it is a very auspicious day.

It is a celebration of bestowing the sacred thread of Brahminhood to their children so that they can acquire spiritual knowledge from their early life. Only on wearing of this thread can one become eligible for attaining the Vedanta Gnana or the knowledge of scriptures.

This ceremony has to be normally performed as per our old traditions,  as soon as a boy child becomes eligible for attending school. But nowadays, it is performed at our own convenience (but before his marriage at any cost). One can marry only after upanayana is done to him.

There are four stages of life as per our Hindu Vedic Culture. They are Balya (childhood), Brahmacharya (bachelor life), Grihastha (married life) and Vanaprastha (retired, ascetic life).

The stage of brahmacharya completes only when he is bestowed with the sacred thread. He is bestowed with this thread amidst Vedic mantras by pundits during the upanayana celebration in the presence of relatives and friends. One can perform any ritual or puja only on wearing this yajnopavita. It is to be guarded and protected from all impurities. This sacred thread is symbolical to his attaining knowledge.


Raksha Bandhan as a Thread of Protection

Originally, Raksha Bandhan was not limited to brothers and sisters only. It was more widely celebrated by all classes of people as an auspicious day of tying the sacred thread amidst chanting of the Vedic mantras.

It is believed that by chanting of mantras and worshipping of the thread which is placed in front of God, the thread gets empowered by divine powers and whoever wears it will become powerful for his enemies and nothing bad will happen to him.

Lord Indra's wife Indrani tied this thread to Indra during the war between Devas and Asuras on this auspicious day of Shravan Purnima and he won the battle.

Further, Draupadi in Mahabharata also tied the Rakhi to Lord Krishna seeking protection for her husbands.


So, it has become a practice to tie the Raksha to anybody to protect him from dangers of life, especially on this auspicious day.

Brahmins tie the thread amidst chanting of mantras to all people normally on this festival day.

You may find the same happening if you attend any Hindu rituals. Before performing any ritual, there is this tradition of tying a rakhi or Raksha to the performer of the ritual. Parents bind this sacred thread to their children for safeguarding them. Husbands bind their wives and wives also bind husbands with these sacred threads for their security.



Modern Raksha Bandhan

Nowadays, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in modern styles. Various types of Rakhis are available in different sizes, colors and designs with varying budgets. So you can purchase them as per your and your sibling's likes. You can tie them to your friends and neighbors also as a token of love and affection. So you find a lot of people all around you wearing rakhis and moving glamorously in a festive mood in your homes, neighborhood and at workplaces or marketplaces. Sravana month itself is a very beautiful season of rains and natural beauty all over. Added to it is galore of festive colors and decorations. It gives a great happiness to our minds seeing this display of love and bondage among people.

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