Everybody loves Raksha Bandhan – the festival celebrating the relationship between brother and sister. When we are young, it is a fun day in the summer on which everybody gets dressed up; gifts are given and nice food eaten. Girls tie rakhis on the wrists of their brothers, cousins, and sometimes close friends. At the end of the day, almost every Hindu boy will have several rakhis around their wrist, one of the few visible markers of Hindu identity that every Hindu boy will share simultaneously.
As we get older, and often have less time on our hands for our near and dear ones, Raksha Bandhan is a day when brothers and sisters (including cousins and close friends) will overcome hurdles to get in get in touch with each other, and celebrate the divine relationship which exists between them.
Raksha Bandhan means ‘bond of protection’, and symbolises a wish of protection of a sister towards her brother. The brother on his part acknowledges responsibility for protecting his sister, and usually gives her a gift.
The festival has been celebrated since antiquity, and continues to be one of the most widely celebrated and loved Hindu festivals. It is in fact a festival that few Hindus know the origins of. Unlike with other festivals, such as Holi or Diwali, where most devotees will know the story and meaning behind the festivals, nobody is particularly bothered about the origin of Raksha Bandhan. This is because it is self-evident to the Hindu mind that the relationship between brother and sister is sacred, and is worth celebrating and reaffirming on a yearly basis. It matters little why it was initially celebrated. (NB. for legends relating to the origins of Raksha Bandhan, click here).
Raksha Bandhan is celebrated every year on the day of the full moon in the holy month of Shraavan. This year, by the western calendar, it fell on the 10th of August. Hindu Perspective hopes that everybody had a joyous Raksha bandhan, and that the good will of the day fills your relationships with your brothers and sisters for the entire year.