Raksha Bandhan is an occasion to celebrate the sacred bond of love and affection between siblings with lots of verve.
Indian history is replete with tales about women tying sacred threads around a man’s arm or wrist for reasons of protecting him and the Rakhi Tradition has been carried over by these legends.
Because of India’s broad cultural spectrum, the festival is celebrated different in different parts of the country. While the sentiment remains the same it’s the customs that undergo some change.
Rakhi is followed with the most amount of fervor in North India. Though popularly called Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi, it is also known as Kajri Purnima over much of North India.
Besides being a celebration of the bonds of love, this day is very propitious for farmers in North India as it marks the beginning of a new harvest, this being the day they sow the seeds. To celebrate this ‘New beginning’, the goddess Bhagwati or the Goddess of prosperity is widely worshipped.
In South India, the Rakhi festival is celebrated under various names like Avani Avittam, Upakramam and Shravan Purnima. It is the last name that is most widely used, Shravan being the auspicious month of the Hindus, and Purnima being the full moon night.
This day has special significance for the Brahmins as they tie the sacred string on to their patron’s wrists and in turn the patrons offer them gifts in cash or kind.
In much of West India, particularly Maharashtra, Rakhi is popularized by the name Nariyal Purnima; Coconut Full Moon Day. The Lord of the Sea, Lord Varuna is worshipped and Coconuts are immersed in the sea as an offering to him.
In East India, the festival of Rakhi is celebrated at Shanti Niketan, the idealistic institute set up by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
He instituted a festival called Rakhi-utsav, to promote feelings of brotherhood during India’s arduous freedom struggle. Today, after he is long gone, the spirit lives on and Rakhi utsav is celebrated in much the same manner now as it was then
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