Rakshya Bandhan: a festival to honour and celebrate bond among siblings

3 August 2020, Kathmandu

Raksha Bandhan, also known as Raakhi is a popular traditionally hindu ceremony which is central to a festival of the same name. It is celebrated in India, Nepal and other parts among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture.

Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu Lunar calendar month of Shravan which typically falls in August. The expression “Raksha Bandhan,” Sanskrit literally, “the bond of protection, obligation, or care,” is now principally applied to this ritual.

On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet called the rakhi around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

In Nepal, raakshya bandhan also celebrated as Janai Purnima believed to be a harbinger of rejuvenation. On this day, Hindu ‘thread-wearing’ men renew their ‪Janai (white cotton string worn diagonally from the left shoulder to the right waist). The priests tie Rakshya Dhago, coloured thread around people’s wrist which is said to protect them from evil.

The festival holds a great significance in Hindu tradition. Janai refers to the sacred thread, and Purnima means full moon day, and this sacred thread is changed on Shrawan Shukla Purnima. Hence, the festival is called Janai Purnima. People also consume delicious Kwati soup prepared by mixing sprouts of nine different pulses today. Specially the Newar community observed the festival as kwati purnnima in Nepal.

In recent years, thousands of devotee’s worship Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu and at Kumbheswar in Lalitpur and other Shiva temples across the country and take holy dips in ponds and lakes and rivers. Religious fairs also used to be held in different holy places in the country. But, this year due to the pandemic of COVID-19 gatherings are barred.

However, siblings across the world are celebrating this festival as a time to pray for wellbeing and happiness of each other, and to celebrate the unique bond between them. They are celebrating the festive with gusto by exchanging raakhi and gifts making their siblings feel special for each other.

Though this year, however, is going to be different from the past due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the festival is celebrating this year as well with love and laughter. We can still have a blast, while remaining safe indoors and spread joy, love and blessings. Let’s celebrate the festival creating strong bond among siblings.  Happy Raksha Bandhan 2020!

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