Rakhi Traditions


A brother's devotion and the sentiments of a Sister's love are reaffirmed by the shared emotion and promises made by siblings, on the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. Each year this beautiful festival falls on the full moon day in August also known as Shravan purnima. The day is especially auspicious because it falls in the Hindu month, Shravan.

  • The day starts of early in the morning with the sister tying the sacred thread, Rakhi, around her brother's wrist and anointing his forehead with the customary tilak.

  • Many Hindus do not eat a morsel before this custom has been completed. Once the rakhi has been tied, the siblings partake some Indian Rakhi sweets in a bid to start of the day on a sweet note. It is only then that they can have their first meal of the day.

  • Along with the tying of the Rakhi the sister also gifts her brother with a box of sweets who in turn bestows her with Rakhi Gifts such as jewelry, clothes and in modern times gadgets such as I-pods etc. He also blesses his sister and vows to look after her forever.

Ancient Rakhi Traditions

In the ancient Puranik scriptures, it is said that King Bali's stronghold had been the Rakhi. Hence while tying the rakhi this couplet is usually recited:

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

"I am tying a Rakhi on you, like the one on mighty demon king Bali. Be firm, O Rakhi, do not falter."

The auspicious words said by the sister are in memory of the demon King Bali, who was said to gain power when he wore a raksha. This is supposed to protect the wearer from negative influences. The brother in turn promises to look after his sister and protect her from any harm that may come to her. Thus the bond between brother and sister is reaffirmed. Her rakhi strengthens him and he in turn promises to use his strength to protect her.

According to one mythological allusion, Rakhi was intended to be the worship of the sea-god Varuna. Hence, offerings of coconut to Varuna, ceremonial bathing and fairs at waterfronts accompany this festival. There are also myths that describe the ritual as observed by Indrani and Yamuna for their respective brothers Indra and Yama.

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