Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan

Rakhi is a sacred thread of protection embellished with the love and affection of a sister for her brother. This day is also known as Raksha Bandhan and celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravana in India. This frail of thread of Rakhi is considered as stronger than iron chains as it binds the most beautiful relationship in an inseparable bond of love and trust. Rakhi festival also has a social significance because it underlines the notion that everybody should live in harmonious coexistence with each other.

Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection), or Rakhi , is a festival primarily observed in North India, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. 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.

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Raksha Bandhan Day

The chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means 'a bond of protection', and Raksha Bandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil.
In India, festivals are the celebration of togetherness, of being one of the family. Raksha Bandhan is one such festival that is all about affection, fraternity and sublime sentiments. It is also known as Raksha Bandhan which means a 'bond of protection'. This is an occasion to flourish love, care, affection and sacred feeling of brotherhood.

The Social Binding

This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcends the confines of the family. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters. All members of the community commit to protect each other and the society in such congregational Rakhi Utsavs, popularized by the Nobel laureate Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

The Friendly Knot

It won’t be wrong to say the fashionable friendship band in vogue today is an extension of the Rakhi custom. When a girl feels a friend of the opposite sex has developed a kind of love too strong for her to reciprocate, she sends the guy a Rakhi and turns the relationship into a sisterly one. This is one way of saying, "let’s just be friends", without hurting the other person's soft feelings for her.

The Auspicious Full Moon

In Northern India, Rakhi Purnima is also called Kajri Purnima or Kajri Navami, when wheat or barley is sown, and goddess Bhagwati is worshipped. In Western states, the festival is called Nariyal Purnima or the Coconut Full Moon. In Southern India, Shravan Purnima is an important religious occasion, especially for the Brahmins. Raksha Bandhan is known by various names: Vish Tarak - the destroyer of venom, Punya Pradayak - the bestower of boons, and Pap Nashak - the destroyer of sins.

Rakhi in History

The strong bond represented by Rakhi has resulted in innumerable political ties among kingdoms and princely states. The pages of Indian history testify that the Rajput and Maratha queens have sent Rakhis even to Mughal kings who, despite their differences, have assuaged their Rakhi-sisters by offering help and protection at critical moments and honoured the fraternal bond. Even matrimonial alliances have been established between kingdoms through the exchange of Rakhis. History has it that the great Hindu King Porus refrained from striking Alexander, the Great because the latter’s wife had approached this mighty adversary and tied a Rakhi on his hand, prior to the battle, urging him not to hurt her husband.

Rakhi Myths & Legends

According to one mythological allusion, Rakhi was intended to be the worship of the sea-god Varuna. Hence, offerings of coconut to Varuna, ceremonial bathing and fairs at waterfronts accompany this festival.
There are also myths that describe the ritual as observed by Indrani and Yamuna for their respective brothers Indra and Yama.

Once, Lord Indra stood almost vanquished in a long-drawn battle against the demons. Full of remorse, he sought the advice of Guru Brihaspati, who suggested for his sortie the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima (fullmoon day of the month of Shravan). On that day, Indra's wife and Brihaspati tied a sacred thread on the wrist of Indra, who then attacked the demon with renewed force and routed him.

Thus the Raksha Bhandhan symbolizes all aspects of protection of the good from evil forces. Even in the great epic Mahabharata, we find Krishna advising Yudhishtthir to tie the puissant Rakhi to guard himself against impending evils.

In the ancient Puranik scriptures, it is said that King Bali's stronghold had been the Raakhi. Hence while tying the rakhi this couplet is usually recited:

Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala

"I am tying a Rakhi on you, like the one on mighty demon king Bali. Be firm, O Rakhi, do not falter."

Why Rakhi?

Rituals like Rakhi, there is no doubt, help ease out various societal strains, induce fellow-feeling, open up channels of expression, give us an opportunity to rework on our role as human beings and, most importantly, bring joy in our mundane lives.
“May all be happy
May all be free from ills
May all behold only the good
May none be in distress.”
This has always been the idea of an ideal Hindu society.

How To Make a Rakhi

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you make a decorated Rakhi wrist band for the Raksha Bandhan festival...

  • Take 20-24 inches long silk thread strands in a bunch. If you want to make multi coloured rakhis take silk threads of different colours.
  • Tie a tight knot with a cotton thread on the one-fourth part of the silken thread bunch. The one-fourth part will be made into a rakhi while the three-fourth will be the string to tie around the wrist.
  • Now make sure the heads of the silk threads of the one-fourth part of the bunch do not remain in loops, in case they are, cut them with a pair of scissors.
  • Once they are independent of loops, with a toothbrush rub hard on these threads and brush them with strong strokes by holding tight on the knot. With repeated strokes the silk threads turns fluffy and soft.
  • To make the string, divide the three-fourth part of the silk thread in two equal parts and plait them separately. At the end tie a knot and brush the end again.
  • Once this is done decorate it with beads or sitaras. Stick them with glue.
  • You can also buy a sheet of sponge of a suitable colour, cut it into a star or flower shape, and decorate it with beads. Golden threads can be entwined and used for decoration.

  • What You Need:
  • Strands of silk threads
  • A pair of scissors
  • Cotton thread to tie knots
  • Beads, sitaras, golden threads and sponge to decorate
  • Glue
  • A toothbrush with hard bristles

Meaning of the rakhi

It is believed that 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.

Traditional stories state that rakhis are blessed with sacred verses and are encompassed by them.

Sometimes rakhis are consecrated in rice and grass before they are given, and they are traditionally tied by people familiar with the Vedas.

Following these customs the rakhi is believed to remove sin from one hand and provide safety to the other. The protection offered by a rakhi is believed to remain for a year.

Customs and practices

As the rakhi is tied, a prayer is offered asking for happiness and prosperity.

Today rakhis are often decorated with multi-coloured silk thread, and often adorned with stones and beads.

Once the rakhi has been tied a mantra is chanted either in Sanskrit or Punjabi.

At the end of the ceremony the sister places a sweet in her mouth. Following this her brother gives her a small monetary gift of appreciation.

This festival has evolved over the years to encompass the importance of many people in Hindu society, yet foremost it continues to honour and uphold the relationship between a sister and brother.

It is a significant festival in the Hindu calendar, followed eight days later by Janamashtami.

More.. on Rakhi

Enjoy Rakhi on August 13, 2011, Saturday

Feasted with the love and enamor with care, every soul is ready to celebrate the sacred festival of raksha bandhan on 13th August, 2011. The day which has become the cynosure of brotherhood, is celebrated around the world, with the rays of love and affection blooming in it. Rakhi festival is not only a ceremony of tying rakhi but it has moreover transited into the trust and love which a girl ties on her brother's wrist and hope that this hand will always hold her in every ups and downs of life.

As per the Hindu calendar rakhi festival falls on the shravan purnima(full moon day), which corresponds to the month of July-August as per the English calendar. The day is being celebrated as per the Indian calendar, which changes every year, hence the festival also falls on the different dates of the English calendar. So all brothers be ready to stand on the threshold of festive moments and see your sister beaming with joy when you surprise her with amazing gifts.

In Mumbai, rakhi festival is called narial purnima or coconut full moon and keralean people called the occasion as the avani avittam. Every region has their own names and ways for enjoying the occasion but the real spirit of the day enliven in every part, which swabs the true color in the mirage of the India.

the Legened

Shravan purnima’s second festival is Raksha Bandhan. This is an ancient tradition. Bhavishya Purana refers to a battle between gods and demons, and Indra (the king of the gods) was feeling depressed. At that time Indra’s wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra’s hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then till today this festival is celebrated.

Through the passage of time festivals are undergoing modifications. Raksha Bandhan is also known as Rakhi. Rakhi has become a sacred festival for sisters and brothers. Sisters tie them to brothers. Priests tie them to people of his congregation. During the middle ages, if a woman tied a Rakhi on the hand of any man, then it became imperative for him, as his religious duty of the highest order, to protect that woman. That man would put his life at stake to protect the honour of that woman.

In those days, many Rajputs sacrificed their lives to protect their spiritual sisters. Humayun received a Rakhi from the queen Karmavati of Chittor and for that, Humayun carried out his sacred brotherly duty and protected her by opposing his own soldiers.

According to ancient traditions, it is customary to have protection threads that are charged with sacred verses (Mantras) and sanctified with rice, durva grass etc.; to have these tied by people who know the Vedas or by near and dear ones. This protection thread saves from sins on the one hand and removes diseases on the other hand. By tying this thread, protection is afforded for a full one year and all kinds of fears are removed.

Nowadays Rakhis are decorated with soft silky threads of various colours, and also with ornaments, pictures, gold and silver threads etc. These Rakhis enhance the artistry of the people. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. It is also a great sacred verse of unity. Acting as a symbol of life's advancement and a leading messenger of togetherness.

Each person should celebrate with enthusiasm this sacred festival of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. (Raksha = protection. Bandhan = tie).

Rakhi Celebrations

On this auspicious day the sisters tie a holy thread called a rakhi, which means the bond of protection, around her brother’s right wrist. The rakhi signifies the promise that the brother will protect his sister from all harm and a prayer from the sister to protect her brother from evil. On this special day brothers and sisters reach out the extra distance to strengthen their relationship. Although Raksha Bandhan is now considered to be a brother-sister festival this was not always true. There have been occasions in the past when a rakhi was tied to signify the strong bond between a mother and child, friends, and even wife and husband. On a global level the rakhi is a symbol of the affection and compassion shared between people.

Like most Hindu festivals, the origin of the Raksha Bandhan is rooted in Hindu mythology. The rakhi was significant when Lord Krishna had cut his finger after Shishupal’s death. To stop the wound from bleeding Draupadi, a wife of the Pandavas, tore a silk strip from her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist. Immensely touched by the action, Krishna vowed to protect Drapaudi from harm and did just so. As well in the epic Mahabharata, Krishna had avised his cousin, Yudhistthir to tie a rakhi around his wrist to guard himself from injury. Indra, king of the devtas, had also been given a rakhi from his wife on occasion to protect him in battle.

The tying of the rakhi has also been of importance with past political ties between kingdoms. An example of this was when King Porus, a Hindu king, had refrained from going to war with Alexander, the Great. This was because Alexander’s wife had gone to king Porus and tied a rakhi around his wrist asking him not to hurt her husband.

Raksha Bandhan is an important festival throughout India and on this day many different rituals or customs take place in certain regions. The festival is commonly known as simply Rakhi or Kajri Purnima in North India. On this day, all the seeds are sown for the new crop year so northern agriculturalists also worship Goddess Bhagwati for her blessings. In Western India this day is celebrated as Nariyal Purnima. A coconut or nariyal is offered to the sea in reverence to Lord Varuna (god of the sea). Nariyal Purnima is also the start of the fishing season which is of great importance to those who make a living from the sea. In South India this day is also known as Avani Avittum or Upakarnam which is significant to the Brahmin community since it marks the start of their Vedic studies.

Today Raksha Bandhan is celebrated through certain rituals practiced by both brother and sister with great zeal and enthusiasm. To start the day off the sister and brother wear special new clothes to commemorate the occasion. The sister usually prepares a rakhi thali (plate), which has roli and rice used for the tilak (paste marked on the forehead), a diya (tealight candle) for the prayers, sweets as an offering and the rakhi. Once ready the sister will apply the tilak to her brother’s forehead, recite prayers and then tie the rakhi around his wrist. While tying the rakhi the sister chants the following verse or mantra: