Thali is a round plate usually made out of copper , it could be bronze, silver or gold, and some also have intricate designs on them.
Traditionally the Rakhi Thali is the same as the thali for the Pooja (ceremony of prayer)of the deities at other festivals.
The Rakhi Thali contains a diya (small candle), roli or tika (paste for anointing the forehead), rice, sandalwood, incense sticks.
In the Raksha bandhan thali, the Rakhis are kept along with the moli (sacred thread, usually red in color).
Though these Thalis were passed on much as a heritage in Ancient India, today they are easily available in the markets at very affordable prices.
One can buy a copper Thali or a Gold Thali depending on your means, the popular one's are the gold plated one's.
There are Thalis which come with the containers and stands for the various components of the Pooja or have complimenting incense stick stands and diyas, containers for rice and roli and place to keep sweets.
Once you have chosen a Thali, you can be as creative as you like in its decoration.
Different significations are linked to the Thali in different parts of the country. However, the popular custom is to draw the Swastika in the middle of the Thali with a red paste.
The Swastika is a much-respected symbol in India. It is the symbol of the elephant god Ganesha.
Usually small containers are placed on the Thali for the roli, diya and incense stick.
The Rakhi and the flowers too are placed on it while the sweets are brought on a different plate.
Beetle leaves are used as a replacement of the containers as they are considered auspicious.
In much of South India, a banana leaf is placed on the Thali and the Swastika is painted on the banana leaf.
In Urban India, Colorful bandhani cloth, or Golden lace too is used as a means of decorating the Thali.
However, it is a very personal gesture and it is not rare to find Thalis which have been painted by the Sisters or innovative Thalis which would serve well as a piece of art.