India celebrates Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi with great pomp and glory. It’s an annual celebration; observed in the India and the neighbouring countries of the Indian subcontinent. The festival is an integral part of India; marking an event of pure love and eternal bonding.
The soul of the ceremony lies in trying of Rakhis or amulets by sisters around the wrists of their brothers. They exchange gifts with well wishes and blessings. There has been significant transformations in the celebrations from the past few years. Many observe it as a way of expressing their respect, love and dedication to the people they adore. They tie the amulets or wrist bands to show their eternal bonding for any individual; irrespective of being brothers or sisters.
Several writers, sociologists and anthropologists have described the festival in their documents and books. The origin of the festival dates back to the ages; it was a tradition for husbands to arrive at their wives’ ancestral home. They came to take their wives back to their residences. The parents of the wives did not visit their daughter’s home as per the customs. The wives followed a tradition for their brothers. They placed barley grains on the head and ears of their brothers. It was a sign of love, devotion and care for their brothers. The brothers gifted them with coins. The wives started their journey back to their husband’s place on completion of the traditon.
Apart from this ceremony, there are mentions of a Charm tying ceremony or Raksha Bandhan. The head Brahmin priest of the village would tie the charms around the wrists of various household heads. In return, the heads would gift the priest with cash or equivalent precious assets. People started abandoning the tradition and unfollowed it. The ceremony remained confined between sisters and brothers, continuing as a renowned festival in India.
Presence in Hindu Mythology
In Hindu mythology, there is a mention about charm tying in the Puranas. Puranas are ancient Hindu religious texts, describing the creation of the Universe, stories of kings, saints etc. The texts mention about Lord Krishna and his sermon to the five Pandavas. He suggested that a priest must tie a charm; filled with mustard seeds, grains and red powder on their hands or any king. It will serve as a protection from all evils and unknown happenings. The Raksha Bandhan rituals seemed to have started from the epic era of Mahabharata.
Rituals in India
Various parts of India and even the neighbouring countries of the Indian subcontinent celebrate the festival in their own traditional methods.
The eastern states of India, Odisha and West Bengal, celebrate the day by worshipping Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha. The locals of the states perform an occasion called Jhulan Poornima. Sisters and brothers meet and greet each other; tying rakhis and exchanging gifts. Food, new clothes, and jovial music and entertainment prevail throughout the states.
In the northern part of India, the people in Jammu celebrate by flying kites. It is amazing to watch the skies adorned with multi-coloured kites of innumerable sizes and unique shapes. In the state of Haryana, the people follow the age-old tradition of priests tying the charms or amulets.
In the western part of India, the state of Maharashtra celebrate the day by worshipping Lord Varuna. The residents throw coconuts into the sea, mark of respect for Varuna – the Lord of Sea in Hindu mythology. Sisters and brothers follow the traditional custom of tying rakhis.
Nepal celebrates Raksha Bandhan with all the festive ceremonies. They follow the rakhi tying ritual between sisters and brothers. The local Brahmins follow a sacred thread ceremony. They change the thread on that day; traditionally worn around the chest as a religious belief and custom.
The rituals and traditions might vary between the states of India. Yet the celebrations are entertaining and filled with fun. It is customary to wear new clothes. Almost all households in India prepare local traditional dishes, sweets and beverages. People adorn themselves with colourful dresses and jewellery. The markets, street-side shops, local stalls are stuffed with rakhis and other gift items. People crowd at the sweet shops to purchase different varieties of sweets, chocolates, desserts and gift packs for their loved ones.
Schools remain mostly closed. Government offices are majorly closed. It is considered an auspicious day in the country. Lord Krishna is worshipped in many places in India; to strengthen the feeling of love and bonding. Many households create beautiful palanquins, crowns, dresses, and jewellery for adorning the Lord and seek his blessings. You can find amazing rangolis; a design made on the floor with colours or ground rice.
In the modern world, the ceremony is not restricted between sisters and brothers. It has attained a much broader horizon in all parts of the country. The tying of rakhis commemorates a bonding of love, respect, devotion and care. Many leaders of the country are noted to celebrate the ceremony by accepting the amulets from little children. It portrays a message of adorable feelings and warmth among the people of the country.
It is the fondness spread across all communities of India; uniting the strength and bonding of the country.
I would like to end the article with a small composition of my own
“Let there be peace and harmony
Let there be music and symphony
Love defines your beauty
Love carves your humanity
Nurture the beauty within you
And spread its pristine hue.”
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.