Raksha Bandhan, or simply Rakhi is a Hindu festival, celebrated in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, notably India and Nepal. Raksha bandhan means “bond of protection”. It is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month of Shravana, which typically falls in Gregorian calendar month of August.

The festival celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters. It is also popularly used to celebrate any brother-sister type of relationship between men and women who may or may not be biologically related. On Raksha Bandhan, a sister ties a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist with a prayer for his prosperity and happiness.This symbolizes the sister’s love. The brother gives her a token gift and a promise to protect her.

Raksha Bandhan is primarily observed on the Indian subcontinent. It is also celebrated by some Jains and Sikhs, and by Hindu communities in other parts of the world.Among the Jains, Jain priests give threads to devotees.Raksha Bandhan has been an important tradition in the history of Sikhism as well,sometimes referred to as Rakhardi or Rakhari.In Nepal, the festival is called Janai Purnima or Rishitarpani, involving a sacred thread ceremony, one observed by Hindus and Newar Buddhist communities.

Hindu families in Mauritius celebrate Raksha Bandhan with good cheer. You wake up in the morning with Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Radio’s traditional Hindustani songs which are dedicated to brothers and sisters. During the day, the national TV channels make sure to broadcast Raksha Bandhan related movies. An atmosphere of joy prevails when sweets (mainly ladoos) and gifts pass between the brother and sister. The sister ties a rakhi on the wrist of her brother and applies red tilak on his forehead before making his aarti with lighted camphor.

This symbolizes the sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being, and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her. The brother wears the Rakhi for the entire day, at school or work, as a reminder of his sister and to mark the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
I’m overseas and away from my sisters this year on Raksha Bandhan. But we are still connected; I believe the Rakhi thread is longer and stronger than an undersea optical cable. Distance doesn’t matter when hearts are close to each other.

The scriptures, epics and ancient fiction of Hinduism is peppered with stories of Rakhi and Raksha Bandhan. While some associate the festival with King Bali and Goddess Laxmi, others accept as true that Draupadi tied a Rakhi to Lord Krishna, even as Kunti tied her Rakhi to her grandson Abhimanyu before the great war.