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Raksha Bandhan symbolizes a bond of protection. The full moon day (Purnima) in the month of the Hindu calendar Shravan (July–August) is celebrated as Raksha Bandhan. Being one of the important festivals in the country, Raksha Bandhan celebrates love and affection between brothers and sisters, even though it may not be a biological relationship. This day is also called as Rakshana Bandhana.
Raksha Bandhan is an ancient Hindu festival that is celebrated to signify the bonding between brothers and sisters. Irrespective of any differences of opinions, on this day, male and female siblings come together and celebrate this festival with earnest love and care. Though the biological bond is given first importance, the brother-sister relationship between cousins and distant family members are also accepted. Nowadays, brothers and sisters of non-biological relationship including neighbors and friends also celebrate Raksha Bandhan. Despite its significance, this festival is very popular in north India.
There are many stories related to Raksha Bandhan festival. Goddess Lakshmi tied Rakhi to King Bali to bring back Lord Vishnu who was staying with Bali upon his request. As he promised to fulfill his sister’s wishes, he freed Lord Vishnu from his request and had them happily return to the abode of Lord Vishnu. Another famous story is about King Alexander and King Porus. It is said that King Porus spared Alexander's life since Alexander's wife sent him a Rakhi asking him not to harm her husband during the war.
One of the famous stories often related to Raksha Bandhan is from the epic Mahabharata. Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, always considered Draupadi, wife of the Pandava brothers, as his friend. Once, Lord Krishna was invited as a guest to a function organized by the Pandava brothers. During the occasion, Shishupala, a distant relative of Krishna, began to insult Krishna. After being patient for a long time, Lord Krishna took his Sudharshan Chakra and beheaded Shishupala. While killing him, he cut his finger. On seeing Krishna’s finger bleed, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of cloth from her sari and bandaged the cut. Lord Krishna smiled at the loving act and promised that he would repay this gratitude when she needed his help. Later, the Pandava brothers lost their wealth, kingdom and wife during a dice game. When Draupadi was humiliated and disrobed in court by the Kaurava brothers, she called for Lord Krishna’s help. On hearing her plea, Lord Krishna responded by magically sending her the cloth to protect her.
Brothers and sisters wake up early in the morning. After taking a bath, the sisters pray to Lord Vishnu for the well-being, longevity, good health, prosperity and happiness of their brothers. During the Pooja, mantras and chants praising Lord Vishnu are sung. The sacred thread called ‘Rakhi’ is placed on the Pooja altar. When the Pooja is completed, sisters apply tilak (spot with red vermilion powder) on the brother’s forehead. The brothers promise to protect and take care of their sisters in all circumstances and stand by them forever. The sisters feed the brothers with sweets and delicacies. Later, they tie the sacred thread Rakhi on his right wrist. Brothers, in turn, gift their sisters with dresses, jewelry or money.
Celebrating Raksha Bandhan can bestow the following benefits:
The sacred scriptures prescribe fire ceremony, Abishekam (hydration ceremony), Pooja/Archana (Light and Sound ceremony), Yantra and Mantra (special sounds) as the ways to offer your prayer to the divine. Out of these, fire ceremony is the most evolved spiritual technology on earth to connect with the divine beings. Participate in the remedial services to clear your karma and receive the blessings.