The festival of Raksha Bandhan is observed on the full
moon day of Shravan (July-August). The word ‘Raksha’ means
protection. On this auspicious day women and girls tie an
amulet-like thread round the right hand wrists of their
brothers as a token of protection against evil during the
ensuing year. The thread is called ‘Rakhi’ and is made of
a few colorful cotton or silk twisted threads of gold or
silver. The brothers give their sisters gifts of money,
clothes, and other valuable things in return. Sisters feed
their brothers with sweets, dry fruits and other
delicacies on this occasion.
Priests and Brahmins also tie this kind of thread round
the wrists of the right hands of their patrons and receive
gifts. They recite a mantra or a sacred formula while
doing so to charge the thread with the power of
Yen baddho Bali Raja
tvam Pratibandhanami rakshe ma chal ma chal.
tread charged with the power of the mantra protects the
wearer from every possible evil.
According to Hindu scriptures sachi, the consort of Indra,
the god of heaven, tied such a mantra charged thread round
the right wrist of her husband when he was disgraced in
the battle by the demon forces. The sacred amulet helped
him in defeating the enemy.
South India, it is celebrated as Avani Avittam. The holy
thread is changed and libation of water is offered to the
ancestors and Rishis on this occasion. The new thread is
worshipped with saffron and turmeric paste before wearing
and the old one is discarded in the water of a pool, a
tank or a river. This day is especially significant for a
Brahmin boy who has recently been invested with an
upanayan (holy thread). Vedas are also read and recited on
Bombay, coconuts are offered to the sea-god Varuna on this
occasion. Exchange of sweets, setting up of fairs,
visiting the relatives and friends, sending the ‘rakhis’
by post to brothers living at far off places, and
remembering the Rishis and Gurus, whom we are, indebted,
to for their guidance and spiritual knowledge, are other
highlights of this festival.