Around mid-August, Hindus all over the world celebrate Raksha bandhan. "Raksha"
means protection, and "bandhan" means bound or binding.
In North India
occasion is popularly called Rakhi, Raksha Bandhan or Rakshaa Bandhan- the
tying of an amulet.
In ancient times a woman tied a 'rakshaa' on her husband's wrist to protect
him from evil. Gradually this changed; she tied a 'rakshaa' on her brother's
right wrist, to protect him from evil influence and those factors which may
taint his character, and to strengthen the bond of sibling love between
them. On the occasion of Rakshaa Bandhan she visits her brother's home and
performs his 'pujan' by applying kumkum and rice grains on his forehead. In
return the brother gives her a gift and vows to protect her too. The
'rakhadi' for rakshaa bandhan itself ranges from a coloured cotton string to
exquisitely decorated balls of various sizes and materials such as fluffy
cotton, 'zari' paper, tinsel, beads and so on.
On Rakshaa Bandhan a second imortance relates to 'Baleva' and our devotion
to the Lord. Just as Bali Raja offered devotion to Lord Narayan by
sacrificing his kingdom and himself, devotees should endeavor to emulate
him. That is the true spirit of Baleva.
Rakshaa bandhan day is important for the priests too, as they tie rakhis on
their patrons wrist and in return receive offerings from them. In some parts
of the country it is customary to draw figures on the walls of their home
and worship them with offerings of vermilion and kheer. The imprints of
palms are also put on either side of the entrance and rakhis are stuck on
them as part of rakshaa bandhan rituals. Some parts of India also reserve
Rakshaa Bandhan day importance for the sacred thread changing ceremony when
the young brahmin boys discard the old one and don a new one
ritualistically. However, on rakshaa bandhan it is the emotions which are
important. The rakshaa bandhan ceremony performed is the symbolic
everlasting bond between brothers and sisters that reinforces ties between
them even across continents, and it is the one which has the most importance
on this auspicious day.
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