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Raksha Bandhan – the Tie of Protection

Raksha Bandhan – the Tie of ProtectionRaksha Bandhan falls on August 7th, 2017, it is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Shravan (August) according to the Hindu calendar. It’s that time of year when sisters tie a rakhi (sacred, decorative thread) on their brothers’ arm and pray for their long life. This act symbolizes the sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being, and his lifelong vow to protect her. Raksha Bandhan is a widely celebrated festival across India and around the world.

Raksha Bandhan always has been a special festival for my brother and me. I used to make rakhi at home using thread, beads and other decorative items. My brother would eagerly await the ritual, after which he would give me cute small gifts bought using his pocket money. I always treasured these gifts. He wore the rakhi to school and showed it to his friends as he was very proud of the rakhi that his sister had made. We enjoyed this festival immensely. I never forget to call and wish him on Raksha Bandan day even though we live far apart.

What is Raksha Bandhan
This is both a Hindu festival and also a secular festival which celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters. This festival is also used to celebrate any brother-sister relationship between men and women who are friends or relatives. In Sanskrit it means “the tie or knot of protection”, where “Raksha” means protection and “Bandhan” is the verb to tie.

How is Raksha bandhan celebrated
On Raksha Bandhan day, sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist, followed by a tilak (like bindi, madewith sindoor and oil) on her brother’s forehead. The brothers in return vow to protect their sisters and give various gifts to express their love and support for her.  No Hindu festival is complete without food, so during this festival many Indian delicacies are prepared at home and enjoyed by the family members and friends at the end of the ritual.

Historical Significance
Raksha Bandhan has much historical significance in Indian history.

When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realized the imminent invasion by Bahadur Shah (Sultan of Gujarat) she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun seeking help. Touched by the act the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor.

Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, initiated Raksha Bandhan to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims. In 1905 the British empire divided Bengal, a province of British India, on the basis of religion. Rabindranath Tagore arranged a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between the Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, and urged them to unite against the British Empire.

So let us all celebrate this festival of brotherhood and tie a rakhi to our sister, friend, brother and anyone else who is dear to us, to express our love and gratitude towards them. If you need a rakhi you can buy them from your local Indian grocery stores. You can also make one; they are like friendship bands made of decorative threads and beads.

Happy Raksha Bandhan to All from TripCompanion!