A simple rakhi, tied on a wrist.
|Observed by||Hindus, Sikhs, predominantly in North India|
|Date||Purnima (Full moon) of Shraavana|
|2011 date||13 August|
Raksha Bandhan (Hindi: रक्षाबंधन, the bond of protection), or Rakhi (राखी), is a festival primarily observed in North India, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is observed by Hindus and Sikhs. The central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival falls on the full moon day (Shravan Poornima) of the Shravan month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
The festival is marked by the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread, by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her as she presents sweets to her brother. The brother and sister traditionally feed one another sweets. Since North Indian and Pakistani kinship practices give cousins a status similar to siblings, girls and women often tie the rakhi to their male cousins as well (referred to as cousin-brothers in regional parlance) in several communities. Unrelated boys and men who are considered to be brothers (munh-bola bhai or adopted brothers) can also be tied rakhis, provided they commit to a lifelong obligation to provide protection to the woman or girl.
 Historical occurrences and mentions
 Santoshi Ma
The tale of the deity Santoshi Mata, and the narrative of her creation on Raksha Bandhan day, was popularized in the 1975 Bollywood blockbuster Jai Santoshi Maa. Ganesh had two sons, Shubh and Labh. On Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh's sister visited and tied a rakhi on Ganesh's wrist. Feeling deprived, the sons immediately began pressing Ganesh and his two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, for a sister. Finally, Ganesh conceded the demand and Santoshi Ma (literally the Mother Goddess of Satisfaction) was created by divine flames that emerged from Riddhi and Siddhi.
 Krishna and Draupadi
Another incident is from the epic Mahabharat and concerns Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She had once torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna's wrist to staunch the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that. Draupadi, in spite of being married to 5 great warriors and being a daughter of a powerful monarch, trusted and depended wholly on Krishna. Krishna repaid the debt of love during the "Vastra-Haran" (literally "clothing-theft") of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarashtra when Yudhisthira lost her to the Kauravas in gambling. At that time, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree through divine intervention, so it could not be removed, to save her honor. This is how he honored his rakhi-vow towards Draupadi.
 King Bali and Goddess Laxmi
According to a legend the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own abode in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi wished to be with her lord back in her abode. She went to Bali disguised as a woman to seek refuge till her husband came back.
During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread to the King. Upon being asked, she revealed who she was and why she was there. The king was touched by her goodwill for his family and her purpose and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife.
Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord. It is said that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters in Shravan Purnima for the thread tying ceremony or the Raksha Bandhan.
 Yama and the Yamuna
According to another legend, Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna, (the river in northern India). Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection, will become immortal.
 Alexander the Great and King Puru
According to one legendary narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
A popular narrative that is centered around Rakhi is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani's fortress. Karnavati, along with a reported 13,000 other women in the fortress, carried out Jauhar on March 8, 1535, killing themselves to avoid dishonor while the men threw the gates open and rode out on a suicidal charge against Bahadur Shah's troops. When he reached Chittor, Humayun evicted Bahadur Shah from fort and restored the kingdom to Karnavati's son, Vikramjit Singh. Although contemporary commentators and memoirs do not mention the Rakhi episode and some historians have expressed skepticism about it, it is mentioned in one mid-seventeenth century Rajasthani account.
 Other festivals on this day
In southern & Central parts of India including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Orissa, this day (i.e. Shravan Poornima day), is when the Brahmin community performs the rituals of Avani Avittam or Upakarma.
 Balarama Jayanti
 Raksha Bandhan celebrations in India and Nepal
While Raksha Bandhan is celebrated all over the country, different parts of the country mark the day in different ways.
In Nepal, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on shravan purnima. It is also called Janai Purnima (Janai is sacred thread and purnima means full moon). Janai is changed in this day, in Brahmins and kshetry's family. A sacred thread is tied on hand by senior family members and relatives. Nepalese people enjoy this festival eating its special food "Kwati", a soup of sprout of seven different grains.
 Rakhi Purnima
 Gamha Purnima
Rakhi is also celebrated as Gamha Purnima in Orissa. On this date, all the domesticated Cows and Bullocks are decorated and worshipped. Various kinds of country-made cakes called Pitha and sweets mitha are made and distributed within families, relatives and friends. In Orissan Jagannath culture, the lord Krishna & Radha enjoy the beautiful rainy season of Shravana starting from Shukla Pakhya Ekadashi (usually 4 days before Purnima) and ending on Rakhi Purnima with a festival called Jhulan Yatra. Idols of Radha-Krishna are beautifully decorated on a swing called Jhulan, hence the name Jhulan Yatra.
 Nariyal Purnima
In western India and parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa this day is celebrated as Nariyal Purnima. On this day, an offering of a coconut (nariyal) is made to the sea, as a mark of respect to Lord Varuna, the God of the Sea. Nariyal Purnima marks the beginning of the fishing season and the fishermen, who depend on the sea for a living, make an offering to Lord Varuna so that they can reap bountiful fish from the sea.
 Jandhyam Poornima
The people of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, celebrate Raksha Bandhan and Janopunyu(जन्यो पुन्यु) on the Shravani Purnima, it is a day on which people change their janeu जनेयु or जन्यो (sacred thread). On this day, the famous Bagwal fair is held at Devidhura in district Champawat. Punyu in Kumauni means Purnima or full moon it is the purnima in which the sacred thread Janeu or Janyo is ceremonially changed. The Raksha Bandhan celebrations are similar all across North India. The thread changing ceremony is done all over India.
 Kajari Purnima
In central parts of India such as Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkand and Bihar this day is celebrated as Kajari Purnima. It is an important day for the farmers and women blessed with a son. On the ninth day after Shravana Amavasya, the preparations of the Kajari festival start. This ninth day is called Kajari Navami and varied rituals are performed by women who have sons until Kajri Purnima or the full moon day.
In parts of Gujarat, this day is celebrated as Pavitropana. On this day, people perform the grand pooja or the worship of Lord Shiva. It is the culmination of the prayers done through out the year.
 Jhulan Purnima, Poonal/Jandhya Poornima/ Janyu
According to Bengali Culture & Celebration, in the state of west Bengal (India), this day is also called Jhulan Purnima there pray & puja of Lord Krishna & Radha. Sister tied rakhi to Brother and bestowed immortality. Political Parties, Offices, Friends, Schools to colleges, Street to Palace celebrate today with a new hope for a good relationship. Brahmins in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Konkan, and Orissa change their sacred threads on the same day (Janayu, called as Poonal in Tamil, Jandhyam in Sanskrit).
- ^ K. Moti Gokulsing, Wimal Dissanayake, Popular culture in a globalised India, Taylor & Francis, 2009, ISBN 9780415476676, http://books.google.com/books?id=5oT-OIKadyoC, "... Raksha Bandhan: A popular Hindu festival of north India where sister ties a thread on brother's wrist, seeking protection ..."
- ^ Sylvie Langlaude, The right of the child to religious freedom in international law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007, ISBN 9789004162662, http://books.google.com/books?id=PeSvEHvjoNoC, "... certain festivals which many Sikhs share with Hindus (namely Divali and Rakhri) ..."
- ^ Misbah Nayeem Quadri (August 5, 2009), "Rakhi strengthens communal ties", DNA India, ISBN 9780852297605, http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_rakhi-strengthens-communal-ties_1279825, "... But even today, in many cities across the country, Hindu girls tie rakhi on the wrist of Muslim youths they consider their brothers and Muslim girls, likewise, tie rakhi on the wrist of Hindu boys ..."
- ^ "Rakhi: Symbol of secularism". The Economic Times. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3370036.cms. Retrieved 2007–03–25. "Raksha Bandhan is a secular festival, say liberal Muslims who have no qualms about celebrating it within and outside the community. Even the ulema has given its nod of approval. “We should not forget that historically, the festival became popular after Rani Karnawati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun when she required his help,’’ says eminent cleric Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi Azhari. “Islam favours everything that promotes peace and harmony. Raksha Bandhan cannot be associated with one particular religion. It is a secular festival and Muslims should not have a problem accepting a rakhi.’’"
- ^ a b Raksha Bandhan, BBC, 2009-08-28, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/raksha.shtml, "... when a woman ties a rakhi around the hand of a man it becomes obligatory for him to honour his religious duty and protect her ..."
- ^ Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani, Students' Britannica India, Popular Prakashan, 2000, ISBN 9780852297605, http://books.google.com/books?id=AE_LIg9G5CgC, "... Raksha Bandhan (also called Rakhi), when girls and women tie a rakhi (a symbolic thread) on their brothers' wrists and pray for their prosperity,happiness and goodwill. The brothers, in turn, give their sisters a token gift and promise protection ..."
- ^ Festivals - Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) UCLA.
- ^ Rakhi: The Thread of Love About the Raksha Bandhan Festival.
- ^ http://www.hindu-blog.com/2008/08/shravan-purnima-or-sawan-poornima.html
- ^ Christine Moorcroft, Folens religious education, Folens Limited, 1995, ISBN 9781852763978, http://books.google.com/books?id=yg-OXEpbWYcC, "... sisters tie to their brothers' or male cousins' wrists ..."
- ^ Alison Shaw, Negotiating risk: British Pakistani experiences of genetics, Berghahn Books, 2009, ISBN 9781845455484, http://books.google.com/books?id=BIL6Xrk_2jcC, "... in Urdu and Panjabi the full kinship terms for cousin mean, literally, the brother or sister born to a maternal or paternal aunt or uncle ... he's my 'cousin-brother' or she's my 'cousin-sister' ..."
- ^ Edward Balfour, The cyclopaedia of India and of eastern and southern Asia, Volume 2, B. Quaritch, 1885, http://books.google.com/books?id=yvNWAAAAMAAJ, "... Munh-Bola-Bhai. Hind. An adopted brother ... Brother-making; Rakhi ..."
- ^ Robert L. Brown, Ganesh: studies of an Asian god, SUNY Press, 1991, ISBN 9780791406564, http://books.google.com/books?id=oF-Hqih3pBAC, "... The boys are jealous, as they, unlike their father, have no sister with whom to tie the rakhi. They and the other women plead with their father, but to no avail; but then Narada appears and convinces Ganesa that the creation of an illustrious daughter ... a flame that engenders Santoshi Ma ..."
- ^ Gambit, Volume 3, http://books.google.com/books?id=bWtaAAAAMAAJ, "... the great blue god Krishna who first put meaning into the rakhi. Listen. He had cut his wrist in the field and it was bleeding. Everybody went running here and there for something to bind his hand with. But Queen Draupadi, wife of the Pandava, without any hesitation tore a strip from her beautiful saree and tied up the ..."
- ^ Scientific Details about Raksha Bandhan
- ^ India cultures quarterly, Volume 25, School of Research, Leonard Theological College, 1968, http://books.google.com/books?id=BBvjAAAAMAAJ, "... They themselves took her to Porus and there she performed the ceremony of raksha bandhan ..."
- ^ History and Significance of Raksha Bandhan Raksha-Bandhan.com
- ^ a b Encyclopaedia of Indian Events & Dates, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2009, ISBN 9788120740747, http://books.google.com/books?id=oGVSvXuCsyUC, "... Rani Karnavati with 13,000 women shut themselves into a vault filled with gunpowder, which they set alight, and they passed into eternity ..."
- ^ Sylvia A. Matheson, Roloff Beny, Rajasthan, land of kings, Vendome Press, 1984, ISBN 9780865650466, http://books.google.com/books?id=dCVuAAAAMAAJ, "... With no time to prepare a sufficiently huge funeral pyre, Karnavati led thousands of women and children, clad in bridal gowns and jewellery, to underground magazines and storerooms full of gunpowder ... The remaining warriors, carrying the changi, the Mewar royal insignia of a golden sun on black peacock-feathers, charged to their final mortal combat with the attackers ..."
- ^ Satish Chandra, Medieval India: from Sultanat to the Mughals, Volume 2, Har-Anand Publications, 2005, ISBN 9788124110669, http://books.google.com/books?id=0Rm9MC4DDrcC, "... According to a mid-seventeenth century Rajasthani account, Rani Karnavati, the Rana's mother, sent a bracelet as rakhi to Humayun, who gallantly responded and helped. Since none of the contemporary sources mention this, little credit can be given to this story ..."
- ^ http://www.iskconbangalore.org/festival-balram-jayanti
- ^ http://www.iskconbangalore.org/balaram-jayanti-2010
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- ^ http://www.orissa.gov.in/portal/LIWPL/event_archive/Events_Archives/89RakshaBandhan_GamhaPurnima.pdf
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- ^ http://www.magicalmumbai.com/1968/narali-poornima-coconut-festival/
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- ^ http://www.tourism-uttarakhand.com/janopunya-festivals.php
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- ^ http://www.sssbalvikas.org/glory5-aug10.asp
- ^ http://mythology.nuvvo.com/lesson/15612-raksha-bandhan
- ^ http://www.raksha-bandhan.com/pavitropana.html
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- ^ http://raksha-bandhan.co.tv/#Jhulan_Purnima
- ^ http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/jul95/0031.html
- ^ http://trsiyengar.tripod.com/srivaishnavam/id14.html
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