Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy Raksha Bandhan

August 2, 2012:

Behana ne bhai ki kalai se pyaar baandha hai,
Resham ki dori se sansaar bandha hai
~ Resham Ki Dori

This Hindi film song pretty much sums up the sentiments afloat in the atmosphere today when sisters are sitting with puja thali in their hands and brothers with their hands stretched forward are waiting for their band of love known as rakhis to be tied to their wrists.

Today is the festival of Raksha Bandhan, an eagerly awaited festival in the Hindu calendar and one of my favorites, dedicated to the brother-sister duo. Literally meaning the ‘The Bond of Protection’, Raksha Bandhan falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravan (July-August) and is a unique way of rejoicing the love and care that binds the relation of a brother and sister together, in a single thread - The Rakhi.


Colorful rakhi pattern sold in shop - Raksha Bandhan
A Colorful Rakhi binding relationships

History is replete with countless events that give us a glimpse of this festival in the past. Thus, we have the lore of Lord Indra who emerged victorious after defeating the demons in a tough battle on account of the protective thread that was tied by his consort Indrani, Lord Krishna who repaid his debt to the Pandava wife Draupadi after she had nursed his bleeding cut with a piece of her sari, Emperor Humayun who helped his adopted sister Rani Karnavati by sending a huge part of his troupe in times of need after she had made him his brother or the countless women tying rakhis to their opponents and taking them as their brothers in order to protect their honor and dignity.

Lord Krishna coconut decorative given as gift to sisters in law during Raksha Bandhan
A decorative 'Gut' or dry coconut given by sisters in law to her brother's wife
as a token of good wish after tying the rakhi

Today, all of these instances have gradually evolved into a full fledged festival celebrating the brother-sister relationship and emphasize the importance and significance of a thread that might look quite simple in a fleeting glance.

The Build Up to the Festival

Preparations for the festival start well in advance. The Indian Bazaars are decked up with shops and stalls selling vivid, vibrant and colorful rakhis with ornate motifs and attractive intricate designs. Step into one of them and you are literally transported in the middle of a huge rakhi pool.


Raksha Bandhan Shop in Mumbai
A Rakhi shop in Mumbai

Colorful rakhi designs in Mumbai - Raksha Bandhan
Colorful rakhi designs and patterns - Raksha Bandhan, Mumbai
Colorful Rakhis on display

Sisters - both young and old - get out in hordes and scan various shops enthusiastically in a bid to buy the best rakhi for their brother. The shops on their part stack a huge collection of rakhis to lure these sisters in.

Colorful rakhi designs displayed in shops - Raksha Bandhan, Mumbai
A woman choosing rakhi during the festival of Raksha Bandhan
The fascinating display and the diversity in designs that each of the shop showcases makes the job of hunting for a suitable rakhi even tougher.

Here, along with the traditionally plain and simple ones hanging down from the rods...

Colorful rakhi designs - Raksha Bandhan
Simple rakhis on sale

you also find the super-heroics spiderman and small Hanumans that your kid brothers so love flaunting,

Rakhis of chota Hanuman, spiderman for the kids, Raksha Bandhan
Cute little Rakhis loved by the kids

and of course, how can the most-sought-afters be left behind - all of them are creatively done and draw you in with their eye catching  patterns and prints,

An attractive rakhi design - Raksha Bandhan, Mumbai
A motif crafted for a rakhi on sale, Raksha Bandhan
Attractive Rakhi patterns

And there are many many more,

Different rakhis on display during Raksha Bandhan
Multihued Rakhis

With the price for these ranging anywhere between Rs. 5 to anything on the upper side, the best thing about them is that their scale is so wide that you can never return home empty handed – there is one for everyone!

Talking of shopping, the brothers don’t have a breather either. They set out to buy presents that they can gift their sisters on the Rakhi Day.

The D-Day Arrives...

Finally, the much awaited day arrives calling for festive family get togethers and jolly merriment. The festival does not limit itself with the traditional combo of brother and sister but takes into its realms the entire family. Such is the beauty of this festival. Thus, rakhis are tied by aunts to sister in laws, to nieces and nephews and by sisters to cousin brothers.

Colorful lumbas for womenfolk - Raksha Bandhan
Lumbas, tied to women... by aunts to sister in laws and nieces

It is a festival with no elaborate rituals and traditions and is simply observed reflecting the very simplicity that we see in the soul of the relationship itself.

Hatches are buried to make way for joyous smiles; innocent bickering are left behind for warm hugs and heartfelt wishes... the sister ties her rakhi onto the wrist of her brother and prays for his prosperity and success throughout his life. Sweets are exchanged, big wide smiles flashed. He, in turn, gifts her something she likes, with a promise that He will always be there by her side for her protection and security whenever she will need him.


Sweets and rakhi - Raksha Bandhan
The sacred bond of Raksha Bandhan

Thus, a simple festival culminates...

With affectionate feelings of love, companionship and camaraderie...

Happy Raksha Bandhan, Bhaiyya

And with a reassuring affirmation that a delicate bond of love will be held tightly,
Come what may...

A lumba hangs...with a promise, Raksha Bandhan

Happy Raksha Bandhan :-)

PS: Please excuse me for interrupting the Japan series in between. Will continue with it shortly.


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61 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful and colorful post on Rakshabandhan:) A huge thanks, Arti to bring out the best of the Indian traditions and festivals through such a colorful and happy post!!

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  2. Hi Arti,

    Happy Raksha Bandhan and I enjoyed reading about this Festival.
    How pretty the Rakhis are and was great to learn more about your customs.

    Happy week
    Carolyn

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  3. such a beautiful post, Arti!!! love it!!

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  4. Beautifuly Rakhi Picture Arti, I have one with the ganesh statue in oranges - red colour, i buy by my self in chennai, Sadly i don't have brother :(

    Do you have brother ..?

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  5. @Arti Good morning. Beautiful post on " Raksha Bandhan " Thanks Awesome photographs.
    Have a great day. Take care.

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  6. Thanks @Everyone! So happy you all like the post :)

    @Mareta How sweet! I can imagine how beautiful your colorful Ganesha rakhi must be :) No worries Mareta, if you don't have brother.. you can also tie it to your cousin brothers or uncles :) And yes, I do have one fortunately :)

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  7. Wow - there's colourful and then there's colourFULL. A very interesting tradition, Arti - thanks for sharing.

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  8. What a sweet custom! My brother died one month before his 56th birthday in 2003, unfortunately. I guess I would have to wait for my 2 yr old grandson to grow up to be a young man before tying one on his wrist! Beautiful pictures, Arti!

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  9. A very colorful post full of warmth! Way to Go Arti!

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  10. That was a lovely colourful post!

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  11. I love all the colors and patterns, so beautiful. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week :)

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  12. Wow nice and colorful post. Happy Raksha Bandhan.

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  13. Aww! Such a lovely post. Happy Raksha Bandhan. :)

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  14. What a lovely post! Enjoyed reading it and shared with few of my friends on fb.. Thank you!

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  15. Such cute , colorful rakhies ..Wow!
    Happy Raksha Bandhan to you too :)

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  16. Such a cute blog with such cute pictures..! happy raksha bandhan to you too :)

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  17. GOOD MORNING ARTI!

    How lovely to see you around! You have been traveling and enjoying the colors of the season, I can see! Oh, India is a place that I may never see, the I have had the pleasure of having teachers, students and friend from India, and their impressive manners and intellect, kindness and hospitality has brought India into my life in some way or another.

    Thank you so much for your kind comments!!! Anita

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  18. I really must get to India one day.

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  19. oh!it was a nice break......
    loved ur colorful pics...

    emotional post i must say..
    my best wishes to you.

    anu

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  20. Happy Raksha Bandhan, Arti. Cute rakhis in all vibrant colors! Beautiful:)

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  21. thanks for sharing with us this very beautiful tradition Arti, I love and appreciate it, wish we have something like this too, but it is great to learn from other's culture and tradition. I am thinking this where may be the "friendship band" was inspired from.

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  22. Looks like colorful and a joyous celebration.

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  23. Colorful rakhis...I still laugh at myself when i used to bunk school during this day only ot avoid being a brother to pretty girls :) lol

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  24. Such a lovely festival - wish we had it here, too! Cheers to brothers and sisiters, my bro is certainly a very good friend to me! Have a happy day Arti!

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  25. Sounds like a nice premise for a holiday. In the states we give one another friendship bracelets (generally when we are younger), but there is no holiday surrounding it.

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  26. Very beautiful gifts. I like the coconut.

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  27. Nice and colorful post, Arti. These days we see so many types of rakhis..., but the old traditional ones-- 'thread-types'attract me more :)
    Lovely post...and yes, please do continue with the Japan series...!!
    Greetings for the occasion..xoxo

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  28. What a wonderful tradition - such a lovely idea to renew the love between brother and sister.

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  29. Wish you happy raksha bandhan. This is a very special function.

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  30. India is a wonderful country that gives travelers incredible experience.

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  31. Beautiful post, well written and supported by really great pics... your blog is a joy to visit and read...

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  32. Very informative post on Rakhi. There is a good shopping complex just outside our colony and all the shops encroach upon the parking space to put up their stalls with Rakhies of varied hues including from China!. Wishing you all the best.

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  33. Sounds like a wonderfully vibrant festival, many thanks for mentioning it.

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  34. Happy Raksha Bandhan! There are so many different colors and designs of Rakhis that I can’t decide what is my favorite. I remember, Arti, you made contact with your brother by phone affectionately while you were in Japan. Congratulations on the bond of brother and sister!

    Yoko

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  35. You have nicely created separate sections and built it up. As expected it is colourful and aptly describes the mood of the festival.

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  36. lovely colorful post! best wishes to u arti...

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  37. A lovely Festival and your pictures are wonderful. It makes me miss my brother though.

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  38. very nice & informative post ! loved all the images of rakhi :)

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  39. Happy Raksha Bandhan! I'd like to see the rakhi you chose for your brother. It may take time to choose from such variety of them. So colorful and beautiful tradition.
    Brothers wear them till they are worn out?

    It is terribly hot here. What about in your part of the world?
    Take good care of yourself,Arti.

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  40. Such a beautiful and colorful post Arti..loved the rakhis..A belated Happy Raksha Bandhan to u..

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  41. What a superb collection of pictures, Arti! Nice write up too.

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  42. yez itz colourfull... very good

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  43. What a wonderful festival and it makes me think that it's a shame we do nothing to honour that relationship in Canada. I enjoyed reading about it. Thanks.

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  44. Thank you, Everyone! Always a pleasure to hear from all of you :-)

    @cosmos Hi Keiko, Yes you are right. It does take a lot of time to choose a rakhi for your brother from such a wide collection. I like the simple ones which don't come with too many frills and I also tie a red thread called 'Moli' along with it. Most of the rakhis are generally removed as the festival day draws out except for one or two that are kept for a few more days. In our tradition, we keep one rakhi for nine days (till 'Guga Navmi') and remove it on the ninth day.

    Its summer season in Japan? In India, Its supposed to be rainy right now but in the absence of any rains... its quite hot here as well :(

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  45. For certain reasons we are not observing the festival this year. But your beautiful post made me mushy all the same. It always reminds me of my childhood.

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  46. Lovely pictures Arti. What fantastic colours.

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  47. what a fascinating post and a wonderful tradition to strengthen the relationship between brother and sister. I'm wondering if anyone ever makes their own Rakhis or are they usually purchased? thanks for a most informative post Arti. Happy week to you.

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  48. I missed India this year on Raksha Bandhan. With no gewar and an array of beautifully displayed rakhis, it was quite dry. Thanks for the post and lovely shots. Now, I had a visual treat for which I used to go to market before Rakhi in India.

    No worries Arti, we will consider this as an interval between the Japan Trip posts.)

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  49. I was fortunate enough this time to have my Sister by my side to tie Rakhi on wrist this time. Even my sixth month old Niece tied Rakhi to me. Its a festival which is unique in this world which we are very proud of. Loved all the pictures.
    See because of you I am back on Blogging and have just blogged.
    Thanks for all your inspiration :)

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  50. Lovely and the bands in different designs and hues look awesome too.

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  51. The festival sounds very interesting. I wouldn't have minded seeing it.

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  52. A colorful pious festival.
    My best wishes Arti.

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  53. Yes, colorful is definitely the first word that comes to mind :-)

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  54. There should be a festival to celebrate brothers and sisters here. It is a special bond. Enjoyed your sharing in the festival. Have a wonderful week. Hugs Carie

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  55. Such a fantastic place and gorgeous photos you took!

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  56. I have two elder brothers and they have been so protective to me ... I was away to tie rakhi to one of my brothers who lives about 6 hrs from chennai. I just came back recently and was enjoying all your posts : )I will not be able to do this in person next year as he has changed company to a place called roha near mumbai !! but I wish him all luck as a sister

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  57. Beautiful and complete description of Raksha Bandhan.. I saw "Perk" among the pics.. I am happy you kept the pic, coz now-a-days sisters are never happy with a chocolate.. Shopping spree is what is needed. And as brothers, we oblige :D

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