Raksha Bandhan is a traditional Hindu festival. It is celebrated on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravana. According to the Gregorian calendar, it usually falls in the month of August. At this festival, sisters of all ages tie an amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers. This amulet or rakhi symbolizes protection from any evil eye and harm. In return, brothers give a gift to their sisters as well as promise to keep them safe and happy.
The meaning of the word Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit is the bond of protection, obligation, or care. Including biological brothers and sisters, this Raksha Bandhan festival is also celebrated among cousins, sister and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija), and other such relations. Furthermore, among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of relations through the tying of rakhi amulets. This tradition is beyond caste and class lines as well as Hindu and Muslim divisions.
This sister-brother festival has various names which varied with the location such as Saluno, Silono, and Rakri. Furthermore, until the mid-20th-century, a ritual similar to Raksha Bandhan was held on the same day which is mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. In this ritual, a domestic priest ties new amulets, charms, or threads on the wrists of his patrons or changes their sacred thread. In return, they receive gifts of money. This ritual is still being celebrated in some places in India.
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is celebrated in various parts of India. Furthermore, different regions of India celebrate the day in different ways. For example.
In the state of West Bengal, the day of Raksha Bandhan is also called Jhulan Purnima. People performed prayers and puja of Lord Krishna and Radha. Sisters tie rakhi to brothers and wish for protection as well as longevity of their brothers. Furthermore, political parties, offices, schools, colleges, families celebrate this day with new hope for a good relationship.
In Maharashtra, the Koli communities celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan/Rakhi Pournima along with Narali Pournima (coconut day festival). Kolis is the fishermen community of the coastal state. The fishermen offer prayers to Lord Varuna, the Hindu god of Sea, for his blessings. As part of the rituals, coconuts were thrown into the sea as offerings to Lord Varuna. Furthermore, girls and women tie rakhi on their brother's wrist.
In the North India regions, mostly in Jammu, people fly kites at the time of Janmashtami and Raksha Bandhan. The sky filled with kites of all shapes and sizes around these two occasions. Furthermore, the locals buy kite strings which is commonly called "gattu door" in the local language along with a variety of kites.
In Haryana, people celebrate the festival of Saluno in addition to Raksha Bandhan. Saluno is celebrated by priests in which they tie amulets against evil on people's wrists. Apart from this, sisters tie threads on brother’s wrist with prayers for their well-being and in return, the brother gives her gifts as well as promise to protect her.
In Nepal, Raksha Bandhan is referred to as Janai Purnima or Rishitarpani which involves a sacred thread ceremony. It is observed by both Hindus and Buddhists of Nepal. The Hindu men change the thread they wear around their chests (janai). Furthermore, in some parts of Nepal, girls and women tie rakhi on their brother's wrists. The Raksha Bandhan like brother-sister festival is observed by other Hindus of Nepal during one of the days of the Tihar festival. This brother-sister festival is popularly known in the Newar community as Gunhu Punhi.
Although a relation between brother and sister is beyond any tradition but celebrating the festival of Raksha Bandhan makes the bond between brothers and sisters stronger. Sisters of all ages tie a sacred rakhi to their brothers and wish for their safety and protection. Furthermore, brothers travel to their sister from any place or distance to celebrate this sacred festival of Rakhi. This festival creates a sense of responsibility to brothers that they have to protect as well as care for their sisters. Nowadays, giving a gift to sisters has become a tradition that every brother follows. This is so that they can make their sisters happy on this special day.