English meaning of the festival
The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. The festival of Raksha Bandhan which means a knot of protection, came into existence some 6 000 years ago at the beginning of the Indus Valley civilisation. Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) signifies a spiritual binding and protection of sisters was foremost
How the date is decided annually
It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Shravan during the moon phase of Shukla (waxing moon) and on the purnima Thithi (full moon).
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Hindu festivals are celebration of togetherness, of being one family. Raksha Bandhan is one such festival. Rakhi or Raksha Sutra is the raw cotton, coloured or white, tied around the wrist of devotees participating in worship also. Every time we see this thread, it should remind us of this prayer/appeal for protection and it should remind us of God. When we think of God, there is no opportunity to engage in impure/sinful activities – and this (avoiding wrong activities) is our protection. As part of our prayer procedures- there is always a ‘raksha/viddhi/kawach’ that is meant to afford the devotee special protection from various forms of calamities/dangers, as well as from incorrect thoughts, which in turn lead to incorrect actions that have future impact. Having asked God for protection (the Best/Highest protection) there is no reason for despair and losing hope. Therefore, this thread should remind us that we have the best possible protection and it gives us hope – preventing despair, depression, suicides etc. According to the Viddhi, a combination of ingredients create the correct ‘formula’, which contributes to the possible success of the appeal the devotee is making. Practice has been that this thread, irrespective of the colour, is added to these ingredients while the respective mantras are chanted. Any appeal to God must be accompanied by effort on our part (we must ALLOW God to fulfil our appeals by creating the right environment). Our effort creates this environment.
How to observe/practice
On the morning of Raksha Bandhan, both male and female members of the home perform Pooja or prayer. A Pooja thali (plate) with a diya (lamp), roli (red paste), a rakhi thread and sweetmeat is offered to the Lord, appealing for his blessings. The sister then ties the rakhi (thread) on her brother’s wrist and wishes for his happiness and wellbeing. In turn, the brother acknowledges the love with a promise to stand by his sister at all times. The rakhi is tied on the wrist of the brother with the chanting of appropriate mantras.