Rakhi In India
India is a land known for its rich cultural festivals. People of India celebrate festivals with great devotion and enthusiasm. Festival is the time for massive celebration. Festival manages to bring every individual emotionally and physically together and adds a lot of interest and color to life. One such popular festival is Raksha Bandhan. The festival celebrates the sweet and salty relationship shared between a brother and a sister. It is the time when all siblings, family members and relatives gather under one roof and call for huge blast.
Rakhi is commemorated on the Hindu month of Shravana. The festival begins with the ritualistic custom of tying sacred Rakhi thread by sister on brother’s wrist. It is believed that this sacred thread protects the brother from any hazards as well as strengthens the bond of love between a brother and a sister. After this, they greet each other by sharing sweets and wonderful gifts. Though the way of celebrating Rakhi has changed with the passage of time, the core essence of the festival remains same everywhere.
Rakhi celebration in India
The festival of Raksha Bandhan is known in various other names. They are as follows:-
The festival is known as Rakhi Purnima in most parts of North India as it is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Shravana.
In western parts of India especially in Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra, Rakhi is known as Narali Purnima. People offer nariyal (coconut) to Lord Varuna, the sea God. The festival holds special significance to the fishermen as their livelihood depends on sea. They make offerings to Lord Varuna for obtaining bountiful fishes from the sea.
In South India, Rakhi is known as Avani Avittam. On this auspicious day, Yajurvedis start reading the Yajur Veda for next six months. The Brahmins take a holy bath and change their old sacred thread known as Janeu or Yajnopavit and wear a new one.
Other Festivals celebrated on Rakhi Day
In India, various other festivals are celebrated on the Rakhi festival. Some of the popular festivals are as follows:-
On this full moon day, Lord Krishna’s elder brother Prabhu Balarama was born. Hence, people celebrate the birthday of Balaram as Balaram Jayanti.
Jhulan Purnima/ Janyu/Jandhya Poornima/
On the day of Rakhi, Jhulan Purnima is celebrated in the state of West Bengal (India). People offer prayers to Lord Krishna and Radha. Holy idols of Radha and Lord Krishna are beautifully decked and they are placed in swing known as ‘Jhulan’. In most of the Hindu households, the Rakhi ceremony is also performed. Many fairs are organized in front of the Radha Krishna temples.
Gamha Purnima is celebrated in the state of Orissa,. People decorate as well as worship domestic cows and bullocks. Like the people of Bengal, they even worship Radha Krishna on this very day. Delicious sweets and country-made cakes known as ‘Pithas’ are prepared at homes.
Jandhyam Purnima is celebrated by the people of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. On this day, men change their sacred thread known as ‘Janeu’ and perform pujas. Along with this thread (Janeu) changing ceremony they even perform Rakhi ceremony.
Kajari Purnima is celebrated in states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The day holds special significance for the farmers and the women blessed with boy child. It is a nine days festival that begins after the Kajari Amavasya. Farmers offer prayers to Goddess Bhagwati for bountiful harvest. On other hand, women fast and perform rituals such as, putting mud or soil with wheat (kaji) in a conical shaped cup made of leaf, coating the room with cow dung, making designs like figures of a child in cradle, house, a woman with a pitcher and so on. On the full moon day, they immerse the cups in the water bodies. All of these rituals are performed in order to keep their sons safe and prosperous.
This festival is celebrated in many parts of Gujarat. On this holy day, people take the blessing of Lord Shiva by offering prayers. They even visit nearby temples to offer water to the Shiva Lingas. It is believed that a person’s past sins shall be forgiven if he offers prayers on this holy day.
Rakhi celebration around the world
Apart from India, the festival has gained lots of popularity in various other nations of the world. In different nations Rakhi is celebrated with gaiety. Lets discuss
Rakhi Celebration in Nepal
On the day of Raksha Bandhan, people of Nepal celebrate Janai Purnima. It is also known as sacred thread festival. Large number of Hindu devotees gather at the holy sites such as Guheswari, Lalitpur, Pashupatinath, Bhadrakali and Khumbheswor, from early morning to offer prayers, seek holy blessing and wear new ‘Janai’ (sacred thread). On this day, Hindu men especially Chettris and Brahmins change their Janai. They even visit the big fair that is held at Kumbeshwor in Lalitpur.
Along with this sacred thread festival, Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated in Nepal. Males, children and females irrespective of any caste tie a holy yellow colored thread around their wrist for protection. Men tie the thread on their right wrists and the females on their left. Moreover, the thread is tied by a Brahman. He even chants holy mantras while tying the thread. It is believed that the thread brings good luck. They remove this sacred thread on Laxmi Puja day.
Rakhi Celebration in Gulf Countries
Rakhi celebration in the Gulf nations is very new. Many Indians who have settled in these Gulf nations have introduced their festive rituals and customs such as Diwali, Holi, Rakhi and so on. These festivals are mainly commemorated by the Indians and not by the natives of the Gulf countries. They celebrate the festival just like the way they do it in India. The celebration is restricted within the Indian community. Many Indians who don’t come from rich Rakhi cultural background also participate in this celebration with great fervour and zeal. This actually strengthens the bond of love amongst the fellow Indians living offshore.
Rakhi celebration in USA and UK and other foreign nations
Due to the globalization, many Indians have settled in various foreign nations such as USA, UK, Canada, Germany and so on. They celebrate the festivals such as Raksha Bandhan, Holi, Diwali with great zest and vigour. However, what they miss is their family members and homeland. Thus, the NRIs celebrate the event in their own way, keeping in mind the core custom of the festival. On the day of the Rakhi festival, they dress themselves in traditional outfits and gather in the community hall. There are many Indians who are settled in these foreign lands alone, a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood automatically develops. Thus on this auspicious day, girls tie a Rakhi thread to boys, considering them as brothers. This is followed by grand feasting. On other hand, those who are settled with their family, perform the traditional customs and celebrate the festival at fullest spirit.
Rakhi celebration in Australia
Rakhi celebration in Australia is similar to that of USA and UK. On the holy day of Raksha Bandhan, boys and girls dress themselves in traditional apparels. Girls wear beautiful sarees or salwar kameez, men wear kurtas and pajamas. They gather in a community hall and perform the Rakhi ceremony. Since, in foreign nation it is difficult to avail Rakhi thread, they tie bracelet or band. The concept of foster brothers and sisters also prevails in this nation. Often the brothers or sister who are settled abroad, delight their dear siblings by sending gifts and Rakhis online.