Traditions & Customs of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a festival that signifies the pure and divine relationship between brothers and sisters. Originated around 6000 years earlier with the civilization of the Indus Valley, this festival is one of the main festivals among the Hindus all around the world which is celebrated with lots of joy and happiness.
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that falls on the spring season. Traditionally, it is known by different names by people living in different parts of the world among Hindus. Even to people of the same country, it is known by different names. For example, in the hilly areas of Nepal, it is known by the name of Janai Purnima, whereas in the Terai region it is known as Rakhi. Similarly, the same festival is known as Rakhi among North Indians. The same day is marked by different religious and traditional customs also.
In Nepal, mostly among Brahmins and Kshatriyas, Janai Purnima marks the day when the holy thread is worn and changed once in a year. Traditionally, the Brahmin men who already wear the holy thread known as ‘Janai’ visit temple early in the morning. They then take a bath in the holy river. In the case of Kathmandu, it is usually a trip to the Pashupati Nath temple. In different parts, its different temples or places of religious importance. After that, they take a new holy thread or Janai that has been made pure by various religious chants and blessings. Then they wear the new one instead of the one they had been wearing. This is for men. However, for other people, it is the day when a holy thread which has been blessed by a guru is tied around the wrist. The thread is supposed to keep the one who wears it safe from any misfortunes and is supposed to keep them safe. Hence the name Raksha Bandhan which means a thread that will save you from misfortunes or anything unpleasant. In the same day, everyone visits the relatives and eats special food to mark the day.
See Also: Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
This kind of ritual is common in the hilly parts of Nepal and that is how it is observed. But, in the Terai regions or in parts of India, it is celebrated as Rakhi. The concept of Rakhi is different from that of Janai Purnima and carries different significance altogether.
Rakhi is a specially prepared holy bracelet kind of thing that is worn on the wrist. In the terai region, Janai Purnima or Rakhi is the day when brother and sisters tie this Rakhi around each other’s wrist. The underlying concept is the same, i.e to make sure the brothers are safeguarded by the Holy Rakhi and through the blessings of their sisters. In earlier times, it used to be a holy thread but the commercial market of today has made the occasion commercial through the production of various types of attractive Rakhi that vendors sell in the market. In return of the Rakhi that the sister ties around the wrist of her brother, the brother then gifts the sister. This custom is popular in the Terai region of Nepal and the North Indians. It is the celebration of the relation between brother and sisters. Other than the blood relation, the ones who are distant but have a pure relation of brother sisters can also observe this celebration to mark the purity and responsibility of this relation.
According to Hindu Mythology, Rakhi also signifies fraternity and peace. On this day, sister ties a rakhi or holy thread or some attractive bracelet on the wrist of her brother. The emotion behind tying this thread is that of responsibility and reverence. While sisters tie Rakhi on the wrist of her brother, brother, on the other hand, make a prayer to God for the wellbeing and good health.
The festival of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is mainly celebrated by Nepalese and Indian people with great enthusiasm and respect. Different people from different parts of these places have a number of beliefs associated with the festival and thereby follows certain set customs and traditions for celebration.
The main custom and tradition associated with Raksha Bandhan involve tying a rakhi around the brother’s wrist. This thread symbolizes the strong bond of love between the siblings. The preparation for this day starts a few days earlier as sisters select rachis for her brothers as there are various types of rakhis available in the market. Also, delicious sweets are prepared long before the day. On the day of Raksha Bandhan, all the family members get ready for the major rituals in the early morning. After taking a bath and purifying mind and body, they set out to do the Puja. The sisters offer rituals for Rakhi. They perform aarti of their brothers and tie the sacred thread on the wrist of their brothers. All the rituals take place while chanting holy mantras.
In Nepal, the rituals and customs regarding celebrating Raksha Bandhan are quite different. In the Purnima morning, men typically go to nearby rivers and ponds in order to take secret bath plunging himself three times in the water. All the men, then change their Janai (Sacred Thread)and break the old ones.
However, in city areas, the family priest also called Pandits or Purets personally comes to the residence of people. The entire family members gather around the priest as he recites the significance and stories of the festival from a holy book called Patro and performs the necessary rituals for the ceremony, which includes purifying the new thread, and finally places it about the men’s neckline across the chest. In the return, men pay the priest by providing foodstuffs and money. The money is basically called Dakshina while other things or offerings are called Daan in Sanskrit.
As the name signifies itself, (Raksha Bandhan) it is a Bandhan, i.e a thread that is tied on the wrist expecting ‘Raksha’ meaning safeguard. So, it is a thread with a symbolic meaning meant to safeguard the person you are tying the Rakhi to. The customs and tradition of celebrating might be different for different people, however, the essence of this festival is to celebrate the pure bond between brothers and sisters and the entire community as well. Over the years, this festival has become such an esteemed festival.
Writer: Asmita Sharma
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Traditions & Customs of Raksha Bandhan
Traditions & Customs of Rakhi Bandhan
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