Rakhi, or Raksha Bandhan, is one of the oldest festivals in the Hindu calendar, celebrated by millions of people around the world.
Born as a celebration between siblings, the family promise of protection is renewed during the annual celebrations, with Raksha Bandhan translating from Sanskrit for “the bond of protection, obligation and care”.
When is Rakhi 2023?
The festival is celebrated during the Hindu month of Shravana, which runs from July to August and always coincides with the full moon.
The celebration period for 2023 falls on August 30-31 and last year it was celebrated on August 11.
Every year the Gregorian date changes because the Hindu calendar follows a lunar cycle.
What is the meaning of tradition?
The Hindu epic Mahabharata tells the story of Lord Krishna and his friend Draupadi.
The couple served as an example of friendship between men and women.
Lord Krishna, in this ancient story, cut his finger on a sacred disk and Draupadi dressed the wound with the end of her saree.
He promised her eternal protection in return for her kindness – and remained true to this promise in later tales.
Continuing this origin story, sisters continue the tradition by tying sacred thread (or rakhis) around their brothers’ wrists.
How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated?
It is customary to observe fasting on this day, although it is not obligatory for those who celebrate it.
Fasting is considered a blessing for the person’s brother or sister, wishing them a long and healthy life.
At the center of the ritual is the puja thali, a devotional plate adorned with roli, diya, sweets, rice grains and the essential rakhis.
Sisters apply tikkas to their brothers’ foreheads and tie the religious thread around their wrists with prayers.
In exchange, they are offered gifts and wishes of protection.
Modern Rakhi Traditions
The festival has recently expanded to include those who do not have siblings and now includes general themes of loyalty and affection between family and even friends.
With this in mind, rakhi designs have evolved with various options available.
The Eco Rakhi (from £5.25 on Etsy) from the “sisters of sustainable development” Jaanvi and Paavani is made of hemp fiber string and Rudhraksh seeds. Each non-profit parcel comes with a paper note of wildflower seeds that can be planted – with profits shared between WWF and other charities.
How can I get involved with Raksha Bandhan?
It is well celebrated in India, but it is mainly organized within families as a brotherly display of respect and love, which means that there are not often public events.
The festival usually begins with a prayer ceremony, during which sisters tie a rakhi, or sacred thread, around their brother’s wrists, make a mark on his forehead with henna powder (tikka), then wish each other good luck and say prayers and blessings.
Blessings of Raksha Bandhan
Siblings or friends wish each other happiness and good luck for the future.
Typical messages often used, include:
- May you always be safe and protected from danger. I love you, my dear brother. Happy Raksha Bandhan! I pray that our bond of love continues to grow stronger.
- May the bond of love between us always remain strong. Wishing you a very happy Raksha Bandhan!
- I wish this Raksha Bandhan brings you all happiness and success in whatever you do. Happy Raksha Bandhan Bhaiya (brother).
- On this Raksha Bandhan, I want to let you know that you are the best brother in the world and I love you. Happy Raksha Bandhan Bhaiya.