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Rakhi

The most important activity on the eve of Raksha Bandhan is tying of Rakhi. The girls tie Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers within a fixed muhurat. Rakhi is the epitome of the bond of love and affection between brothers and sisters. For brothers, it stands for the responsibility to protect his sister from all sorts of evil in the world. For sisters, it is the symbol of the prayers for their brothers.

The auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan falls on Shravana Purnima in the month of August. On this day, all the family members wake up early in the morning and freshen up their mind, body and soul. All of them fast till the completion of Raksha Bandhan rituals.
To start with, the girls and women perform puja. Then they prepare thali for arti. They put Rakhi (a decorated sacred thread), roli and rice, puja diya, flowers and sweets into a copper or steel plate. As per the Raksha Bandhan rituals, girls perform arti of their brothers and tie Rakhi on their wrist. The ceremony ends by brother and sister making each other eat bits of sweets. While tying Rakhi, the girl invokes divine blessings for her brother's sound health and happiness. The traditional mantra for Rakhi prayer is

“Yena Badhdho Bali Raja
Daanavendro mahabalah
Tena twam anubadhnaami
Raksha maa chala maa chala.”

In this mantra, the girls say “ Aye Rakhi, I am tying you on my brother's hand like Goddess Laxmi tied on the hand of King Bali. I pray to thee, that thou protect him from all kinds of danger”. In turn, the brother takes the vow to guard her sister. Exchange of gifts among the loved ones is also one of the highlights of the day. The rituals are followed by family feast, which fills the whole atmosphere with the aura of jubilation and happiness.

Remember the story of Alexander and King Porus? King Porus spared the life of Alexander on the battlefield because he promised his sister ( who was Alexander's wife ) to guard her husband against any kind of danger. Another historical Rakhi story is the testimony of the brother's dedication towards his sister. This one belongs to the Mughal era. Mughal Emperor Humanyun, despite being extremely busy, ran for help for his Rakhi sister Rani Karnavati when her empire was attacked. The thread of Rakhi may look delicate from outside, but it possesses immense strength; the strength of blessings.



In the contemporary times, the meaning of Rakhi has taken a broader and more liberal definition in India. It is a trend in Punjab to tie Rakhi to near friends, distant cousins and even to neighbors. They are the girl's Dharm Bhras or Rakhi Brothers. Women send Rakhi to the soldiers guarding the border of the nation. Special programs are arranged in President's house and Prime-minister house so that the girls can come and tie Rakhi to them.

The festival of Raksha Bandhan adds to the beauty and love of the brother-sister relationship. And the kind of enthusiasm shown for the festival by Indians and people of Hindu religion living outside the India affirms the fact.
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