Raksha Bandhan - A Special Bond for Life

August 13, 2011

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

A day to end the classic sibling rivalry, a day to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters - Raksha Bandhan, which is celebrated on a full moon day in August is a day when siblings pray for each other's well being and goodwill.

On this day, sisters perform the 'aarti' and apply vermillion on their brothers' forehead. The main ceremony on this occasion is the tying of 'Rakhi' (a silk thread), ideally made of silk with gold and silver threads, beautifully crafted embroidered sequins, and studded with semi precious stones, by a sister on her brother's wrist symbolizing her love for him. Brothers too promise their sisters to protect them from all harm. The usual custom is that the brothers gift something to their sisters as a token of their love and affection.

Siblings set aside their professional commitments and visit each other come what may on this particular day to uphold the oneness of the family. Sisters even send Rakhis to brothers who are far away by post.

The Rakhi Festival

As per Indian tradition, family members begin rituals early morning on this day. Before any preparations begin, they take bath in order to purify the body and mind. Sisters prepare the puja thali consisting of roli, tilak, Rakhis, rice grains, incense sticks, diyas and sweets. After performing the rituals to the family deity, sisters perform aarti and tie Rakhi, which is a very intergral part of the customs, on their brothers' wrists. Then, they apply vermillion (kumkum) on the forehead of their brothers and offer sweets. All these rituals take place amid the chanting of the following mantras:

"Suraj shakhan chhodian, Mooli chhodia beej
Behen ne rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee",

Meaning, "The sun radiates its sunlight; the radish spreads its seeds,
I tie the rakhi to you O brother and wish that may you live long."

After her prayer for a long life for her brother, she says that she is tying the ever-protective Raksha to her brother's wrist and chants:

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

Meaning, "I tie you the Rakhi that was tied to king Bali, the king of Demons,
O Rakhi I pray that you never falter in protecting your devotee".

Even though rituals performed on Raksha Bandhan may differ from place to place, they carry the same significance.

Mythological Reference
Based on the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, several mythological stories and legends are prevalent in India. Based on Hindu mythological reference, some believe Raksha Bandhan is about worshipping Varuna. Sometimes Rakhi is also associated with prayer for immortality of a brother. Following another legend, Yamuna tied Rakhi to her brother Yama – lord of death for protection of his immortality.

Raksha Bandhan can be also associated with the mythological story of Lord Indra. On a full moon day of Shraavana following the advice of Guru Brihaspati, Lord Indra’s wife tied a sacred thread on his wrist so that he can fight with the demons with victorious zeal. The legendary story of Demon King Bali is also associated with Raksha Bandhan. Goddess Lakshmi tied this sacred thread to King Bali.

Social Significance

The Raksha Bandhan ritual also transcends the confines of a brother-sister relationship. A Rakhi can be tied to close friends and dear ones signifying the need of the hour-a harmonious social life, where people co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters. 'Rakhi Utsav', first promoted by Rabindranath Tagore, promotes a feeling of unity and commitment to all members of the society to live in harmony.

If looked at from a much broader perspective, the festival embraces a true sense of peaceful co-existence and brotherhood. All human beings in the society can be relieved from the prevailing social evils, violence and mistrust if the values propagated in this occasion is inculcated by all.

On a lighter note, when a girl cannot reciprocate a boy's strong feelings towards her, she can tie or send a Rakhi to him. Probably one way of saying, "let's just be friends", without hurting the other's sentiments!

By Vinisha D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • Langoolacharya., Belman/USA.

    Sat, Aug 20 2011


    Excelcellent article ,,, more so being a Christian...Some day you will be a great writer..Keep it up.



  • Joyson Vas SJ, Neermarga, Mangalore

    Fri, Aug 19 2011

    Good article....enjoyed reading.....keep it up.....

  • bhargav kaneria, mangalore

    Tue, Aug 16 2011

    very informatory....tysm vinisha :)

  • Indian , Mlore

    Mon, Aug 15 2011

    Brother is not meant by tying a knot in hands,it has to be delivered from heart coz I have seen a pair they had tied knots once and in the next year both were turned to be lovers.

  • vesleeta D'Souza, Karkala / UAE

    Sun, Aug 14 2011

    Dear vinu, nice article. keep writing.

  • saloni Roche, mangalore

    Sun, Aug 14 2011

    Good Article.Keep writing.

  • Richie John Pais, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    Good article. Keep it up Vinisha . Welcome to the literary world.

  • Saleem Javed , Malpe

    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    Keep Up Your Good Work Vinisha D'Souza . Would like to see many more Articles from you :)

  • Rajesh, mangalore

    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    hai Vinu... nice article..keep writting. God bless u.


    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    I do not have a sister. Always I feel , especially on Raksha Bandhan.

  • amit kumar, baroda

    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    nice article ....yaar.....

  • Ashok, Dubai

    Sat, Aug 13 2011

    Sister Vinisha, God bless you. Good article. Keep writting.

  • Dr.ethihas, mangalore

    Fri, Aug 12 2011

    Miss vinish!
    good compilation of the article based on Raksha Bandhan.
    Classical refferences you collected are really impressive.
    god bless u

  • arun udupa, udupi

    Fri, Aug 12 2011

    nice article thanks Vini

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