The festival honors the sacred bond between brothers and sisters who make promises of protection and love on this day

THE Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan is around the corner as siblings worldwide prepare for the special day with much anticipation.
But just what is Raksha Bandhan all about and how is the auspicious day celebrated? We explain.

What is Raksha Bandhan and when is it in 2020?

  • Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival that celebrates the love between brothers and sisters.
  • The occasion of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar in the month of Shravana which typically falls in the August month of the Gregorian calendar.
  • This year, it will be observed on Monday, August 3.
  • The festival’s name is made up of two words: Raksha meaning protection and Bandhan meaning to tie or bond.
  • Combined, the phrase signifies “bond protection” and symbolises the sacredness of the sibling relationship.
  • The ceremonies are carried out by Hindus from North and Western India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Mauritius, as well as the Sikh and Jain communities.
  • The Raksha Bandhan tradition is centuries old and there are multiple stories related to its origin.

How is the festival celebrated?

The festival is observed as a symbol of duty between brothers and sisters but is not strictly reserved for blood relatives.

It is a celebration of any type of brother-sister relationship, like cousins and close friends, and is often used as a day to honor military personnel by calling them “the nation’s brothers.”

On Raksha Bandhan, a sister ties a rakhi (decorative thread) around the wrist of her brother in order to pray for his prosperity, health, and well-being.

The brother in return offers gifts to his sister and promises to protect her from any harm.

What happens on the day?

Weeks before the big day, sisters worldwide begin buying beautiful "rakhis" for their brothers.

These can be in the form of colorful threads, silver rakhis, bracelets, amulets, and other men's wrist accessories.

On the day, siblings all wear new clothes and observe the festival in the presence of parents, grandparents, and other family members.

The ritual involves lighting a Diya or earthen lamp which represents the God of Fire and performing aarti or worship by the sisters.

Prayers are said for the well-being of the brother before a "tilak" or colored spot is marked on the forehead of their brothers.

The brother is then given a bite of a sweetmeat or nuts before the rakhi is tied around his wrist.

He then presents his sister with gifts, which can include money, a hamper, jewelry, or clothes among other things.