Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) Customs & Rituals

Enrich your knowledge on the age old customs and traditions of Raksha Bandhan festival.

On the auspicious day of Rakhi, all the sisters and brothers get up early in the morning. They wear new clothes on this occasion and get ready for their special festival. Generally there is a 'Shubh-Muhurat' for performing the tying of Rakhi to the brothers. Therefore they get ready accordingly.

Sisters decorate a 'Thali' (a Plate) especially for the occasion of Rakhi. They keep all the necessary items like Roli (for Tilak), Akshat (rice grains for Tilak), Diya or Deepak (for performing the Arti of their brother), Sweets and the Rakhi in that beautifully decorated Thali. First of all the sisters put Tilak on the forehead of their brother and then stick some of the Akshat to the same Tilak. Then they perform the Arti of their brothers. After that they tie the Rakhi, preferably, on the right wrist of their brothers.

While performing the tying of the Rakhi on to the brothers, sisters generally chant the following 'mantra'...

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

This is a 'mantra' mentioned in the 'Hindu Shastras' and it means...

"I am tying a Rakhi on you, like the one on mighty demon king Bali. Be firm, O Rakhi, do not falter."

After tying the Rakhi, the sisters sweeten the mouth of their brothers with sweets. Then it is the brother's turn to give some gifts to their sisters. This gift can be either in cash or in kind. Sometimes the sisters also give return gifts to their brothers.

Thus on the festive occasion of Rakhi, the brothers and sisters wish happy long life, success, prosperity and health to each other. In last all of them seek the blessings of their parents and other elderly people in their family. After that they go to visit their relatives and to exchange the greetings with them.

Raksha Bandhan is primarily a North Indian festival kindling the deepest emotions of love and affection amongst the siblings. Just like all Indian festivals, this is also celebrated with lots of verve.

The sister ties the Rakhi on the brother's wrist and both pray for each other’s well being followed by a pledge from the brother to take care of his sister under all circumstances. The brother then usually gifts something to the sister to mark the occasion. Celebrated enveloped in the festivities. The mirth that surrounds the festival is unsurpassed. Amidst the merriment the rituals are also followed with great devotion.

The Rakhis and the sweets are bought and prepared generally before the Purnima. As per the tradition the family members get ready for the rituals early. They take a bath to purify mind and body before starting any preparations. The sisters prepare the thali for the poojan. It contains the Rakhi threads, kumkum powder, rice grains, diya (an earthen or a metal lamp used for worshiping), agarbattis (incense sticks) and sweets.

First of all the offerings are made to the deities of the family. The sister then performs the arti of the brother and ties the Rakhi. She then Tilaks (puts kumkum powder on the forehead) him and offers sweets. While performing the rituals the Sister chants:

"Suraj shakhan chhodian, Mooli chhodia beej
Behen ne Rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee"

Meaning "The sun radiates its sunlight, the radish spreads its seeds,
I tie the Rakhi to you O brother and wish that may you live long."