Raksha Bandhan is a unique festival that celebrates sibling love. Also referred to as Rakhi Poornima, the central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (also known as a sacred thread) by a sister on her brother’s wrist. The promise of unconditional sisterly love and the prayer for his well-being and long life is traded for protection and shelter from the brother.
This auspicious festival is celebrated on the full moon day (Shravan Poornima) of the Shravan month of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. It came into origin about 6000 years back during the Indus Valley Civilization.
The significance & history of the festival
Raksha Bandhan is now usually a day that celebrates just the sacred relation of a brother and a sister. Yet there have been examples in history where the ‘rakhi’ has been honoured as the thread; a raksha or protection. It could be tied by wife, a daughter or mother. The Rajput queens would send rakhi’s to the neighbouring rulers as token of brotherhood. The Rishis tied rakhi to the people who came seeking their blessings. The sages tied the sacred thread to themselves to safe guard them from the evil.
On the day of Rakhi, sisters prepare the pooja thali with diya, roli, chawal, rakhi thread and sweets. The Rakhi Thali should contain a diya (an earthen lamp), roli or tika to apply on the forehead, rice, sandalwood and incense sticks that need to be lit during the puja.
In the Raksha bandhan thali, the rakhis are kept along with the mouli.
The sacred ritual
After offering the rituals to the family deities, the ritual begins with a prayer in front of God and the sisters perform an ‘aarti’ and put tilak on the forehead of her brother and pray for his good health and well-being and offers him sweets.
All these rituals take place amid the chanting of the following verse :
“Suraj shakhan chhodian, Mooli chhodia beej
Behen ne rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee”,
which means “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.”
Or with Sanskrit Peace Mantras – like
Om Sahana Vavatu Sahanau Bhunaktu, Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi
May He protect both of us. May He nourish both of us. Om peace, peace, peace.
The sister then ties the sacred thread or the rakhi on the wrist of their brother and wishes for his happiness and well-being. In turn, the brother acknowledges the love with a promise to stand by his sister through all the good and bad time and wish her a happy and prosperous life. Usually, brothers gift something to the sister to mark the occasion. The gift symbolizes the physical acceptance of her love, reminder of their togetherness and his pledge.
Decorating the rakhi thali
- Make a paste with sandalwood powder and water. Dab this paste over entire thali that you will prepare for the raksha bandhan.
- Once the thali dry, draw the auspicious symbol of Swastika with Roli (Red kumkum) in the centre of thali.
- Decorate the space between Swastika with yellow petals of marigold. Add rose petals around the entire swastika border.
- Add some rose petals in the boundary of the thali and add some accessories like beads, tassels and satin cloth to the thali
- Place betel leaves at the centre and on four sides of the thali. Place roli, Rakhi, akshat and sweets on all four betel leaves. Now place a diya on the centre betel leaf.
- Decorate the space between betel leaves with dry fruits.
- Your Thali is ready for Rakhi tying ceremony.
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