Adyar Gopal Parivar
By Dr. Mohan Shenoy
      Raksha Bandhan is the tying of a band known as Raakhi to the wrist of a brother by a
sister. When the Raakhi is tied it is understood that the sister is seeking protection from the
brother from enemies. The Wise men of Hinduism devised a festival in which any woman
could tie the Raakhi to a man she wishes to be protected from the effects of lust. The
Raksha Bandhan is a permanent contract between the lady and the gentleman. They are
brother and sister from then on for all practical purposes even if they are not blood relatives.
As a corollary, a lady who wishes to marry a gentleman, or a lady who has a chance of
getting married to a gentleman, she be careful not to tie the Raakhi to him. A gentleman who
has a chance, remote or otherwise of getting married to a lady then he better refuse to be
party in tying the Raakhi to him by that lady. Always a lady ties the Raakhi to a gentleman,
not vice versa.

        Raakhi is merely a nine-inch (21 centimeters) long soft rope made of cotton and silk
threads with or without some kind of a glittering flower attached in its center. The rope is
about 0.3 inches (0.5 centimeters) in thickness. The flower is about 2 inches (5 centimeters)
in diameter. The flower is usually made of cotton, nylon or silk cloth and has glittering
threads or beads on it. When the Raakhi rope is tied on, usually the right wrist, the flower
stands over the back of the wrist.
      The Raakhi is kept on one’s wrist for about a week or even a month and then
discarded. It is not used again at the next year’s Raksha Bandhan festival. Every year a new
Raakhi has to be purchased by the girl (woman) in Hindu households. Raakhi has no
religious connotation and it is a secular item used by all those who live in India. Raakhi is an
important merchandise sold during the Raksha Bandhan festival especially in northern parts
of India.
  Nowadays, the threat of assault or attack a lady faces is not the kind that ladies in India
faced in the olden days. The recent stories of significance of the event in which a Hindu
queen tied a Raakhi to a Moslem king seeking protection was during the Mogul rule. Later
the women in Punjab regularly celebrated Raksha Bandhan by tying Raakhi to their brothers
because of the constant threat that they faced during the turbulent period of wars between
the Mogul and Sikh armies. Sikh religion prescribes the followers to carry a small dagger
known as Kirpan with them all the time. The length of the Kirpan was sufficiently long in the
past for it to be used in real fights. But at present the Kirpan is a symbolic dagger and it is as
small as 4 inches (10 centimeters) in length.
 Still the sentiment of Raksha Bandhan lingers on among the Hindus. It is a festival
welcomed by the community, because of the beauty of love of a lady to her brother. The
transaction involves giving of a gift by the brother (or whoever the lady ties the Raakhi to) to
his sister ( or whoever ties the Raakhi). The gift is anxiously looked forward to by the lady
since it could be a packet of money or it could be some valuable item like a saree, dress,
jewelry, a new car, a real estate property, etc. The people who manufacture the Raakhis are
also eager to make some money during the days before the festival. The shops display
hundreds of varieties of Raakhis and it is a beautiful sight to watch groups of women go
around the market to buy Raakhis. The Raakhis are priced according to the value of the
rope and the flower. In some of the Raakhis the flower is replaced with small toys but this is
 The Raksha Bandhan festival is held on the day of Full Moon or Poornima in the month of
Shraavana which usually falls in the month of August, every year. The Shraavana Poornima
is the day on which festival of one or other kind is held in places where Raksha Bandhan is
not so popular. The festival known as Yajurupaakarma is held on this day during which the
sacred thread worn during the past year is discarded and in its place a new sacred thread is
worn by the Brahmins ( a Hindu sect) of Karnataka state. This Yajurupaakarma festival may
be held by Brahmins living in other places also. Those Brahmins who claim to be followers
of Rig Veda, celebrate this festival as Rigupaakarma on the day following the Poornima or
on the Paadya thithi day. The rituals are same for Yajur and Rig Upaakarma(s). At other
places in India Shraavana Poornima is a day of festival in which feasts are an important part
but no Raakhi or sacred thread are involved.

 On the other hand, the Friendship band does not impose such condition on either of the
persons who exchange the Friendship band on the Friendship Day. The Friendship band
can be tied by a girl or a woman to another girl or woman. The Raksha Bandhan has by rule
to be tied by a female to a male. The male is the recipient of the Raksha Bandhan which
comes with the unwritten undertaking that the male will always protect the female from
assaults and attacks from other persons, usually males. The Friendship Day is therefore not
a replacement of Raksha Bandhan Day, on principle.

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