Happy Raksha Bandhan 2022: how the festival is celebrated and when to tie a rakhi

The bond between a brother and sister remains at the heart of this ever-evolving Hindu festival

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Every year, during the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi or a bracelet around the wrist of their brothers. The ritual is meant to protect him from evil and cements the siblings' bond.

While the practice can be traced back to ancient Hindu texts, the festival has evolved over the years, with the essence being the celebration of a brother-sister bond. The ritual is not limited to siblings, with cousins, friends and even colleagues tying rakhis. The person receiving the rakhi traditionally reciprocates the gesture in the form of money or gifts.

The festival of Raksha Bandhan, which falls today, Thursday, August 11, literally translates to "bond of protection".

Which date does Raksha Bandhan fall on this year?

A girl holds a rakhi during Raksha Bandhan festival. EPA

Raksha Bandhan is usually celebrated on the last day of Shraavana, the fifth month in the Hindu lunar calendar, which means the date changes every year. This year, it falls today - Thursday, August 11.

The day is a bank holiday in most parts of India.

How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated?

A woman shops for rakhis in Mumbai. AFP

While various iterations exist, the tradition usually involves a ritual where the sister offers prayers and applies a tikka or vermilion paste on her brother's forehead. She then ties a rakhi around his wrist for protection. The brother in turn offers her gifts and vows to protect her.

Brother and sister then feed each other sweets to celebrate their bond.

Since the day is a public holiday in most parts of India and Nepal, it usually encompasses visits to each other's families with many dressed in their traditional best.

The festival is also a major commercial event, with shops, big brands and restaurants offering Raksha Bandhan deals.

Many celebrities also join in, with everyone from Priyanka Chopra Jonas to Anushka Sharma celebrating last year.

This year, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar is releasing a film aptly called Raksha Bandhan, which is based on a brother's relationship with his four sisters. In an interview with The National, the actor said the family drama was one of the best films he's done.

When is the best time to tie a rakhi?

A schoolgirl ties a rakhi on the wrist of an Indian Border Security Force member. AFP

There are so specific timings for Raksha Bandhan, but in some cultures, sisters fast until they've offered prayers and tied rakhis on their brothers. As a result, the ritual is usually completed early in the day, with celebrations going on all day and into the evening.

According to some astrologers, this year the Purnima Tithi, or auspicious time, begins at 10.38am on Thursday and ends at 7.05am on Friday. So, rakhis can be tied any time during that period.

The evolution of the rakhi

Rakhis are unique and personal to each individual who gives or receives one. EPA

The rakhi or the charm tied around the wrist has also evolved with the times. They vary widely in design and price, from simple woven threads to intricate bejewelled ones.

This year, the Bluetooth rakhi is hugely popular. They are available online and designed to look like a traditional rakhi. However, it comes with an accompanying app allowing the sister to record her brother's vow of protection. Whenever he forgets his vow, the sister can then play it for the brother to remind him.

For people looking for an environmentally friendly option, Seed Rakhi offers colourful designs made with organic cotton threads. They are also embedded with different seeds to be planted and grown.

The company says it launched in a bid to reduce the estimated 620 million non-biodegradable rakhis dumped every year across India.

Scroll through the gallery below for stills from the Bollywood film 'Raksha Bandhan'

Updated: August 11, 2022, 8:31 AM
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