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Raksha Bandhan

August 3, 2020

Rakshabandhan, an incredible festival that is dedicated to honouring the relationship between brothers and sisters is specific to the Indian subcontinent. It exhibits bonding and caring in the relationship between a brother and a sister.

Raksha Bandhan means “bond of protection” in Sanskrit. It is observed annually on “Sravana Purnima” as per Hindu lunar calendar, which typically falls in August. On this day, sisters tie a “rakhi” on the wrists of their brothers and pray for the brother’s long life and happiness. In return, brothers affirm their responsibility of protecting sisters in every circumstance. The essence of this festival is that it is not only related to siblings. It is meant to celebrate any brother-sister relationship between men and women who may not be biologically related.

Raksha Bandhan dates back to ancient times, where it is mentioned in several scriptures and epics. One of the finest examples was mentioned in the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had torn the corner of her sari to prevent Lord Krishna’s wrist from bleeding. Thus, a bond, that of sister and brother developed between them, and he vowed to protect her.

Some other legends say that Roxana, Alexander’s wife, had heard of the Rakhi festival. Then she approached King Puru, who accepted her as his sister. Consequently, King Puru refrained from killing Alexander when the opportunity came during the war.

Though Raksha Bandhan is celebrated all over India, there are a few regional variations. 

In Haryana, “Salono” is observed in association with Raksha Bandhan where priests are seen tying sacred amulets on people’s wrist.

In Odisha and West Bengal, this festival is called “Jhulan Purnima” where worshipping of Lord Krishna and Radha takes place.

In Maharashtra, “Narali Purnima” is observed along with Rakhi Purnima by the “Koli” community. Fishermen throw coconuts into the sea as a part of rituals offering to Lord Varuna to seek his blessings.

The other variants called Avani Avattam, Kajri Purnima, Pavitropana, Jania Purnima and Rishitarpani are observed in different regions of India.