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On Shravan Sud Punam, which generally falls in the middle of August, Hindus celebrate Raksha Bandhan. During this festival, sisters tie a rakdhi or raksha, a colorfully decorated string, on their brother’s wrist. The sister goes to her brother’s house and performs a special puja. She applies a kumkum chandlo and rice grains on his forehead. She then ties a rakdhi, which symbolizes protecting him from negative influence. In return, he gives her a gift and vows to take care of her. In the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and sadhus tie rakhdi’s on devotees. This practice reminds devotees to surrender themselves to Bhagwan, who protects them from maya and helps them progress on the spiritual path.

Origins:

  • After fighting for twelve years, the devas lost against the danavas, or demons. Determined to win, the devas prepared to fight again. On this day, Indrani tied a raksha on Indra and explained the importance of the rakhdi. – Bhavishya Purana
  • During the Mahabharata battles, Kunti Devi tied a raksha on her grandson, Abhimanyu, in order to protect him in the war.
  • Shri Narayan (Vishnu), pleased with King Bali’s devotion, agreed to remain at Bali’s kingdom in Sutal. When Shri Narayan did not return to Vaikunth, Lakshmiji became worried. She visited Sutal on Shravan Purnima and accepted King Bali as her brother by tying a raksha on him. Bali Raja granted her a boon, and she asked for Shri Narayan’s return to Vaikunth. However, Shri Narayan could not leave because he had previously promised to protect King Bali. Brahma, Shiva, and Shri Narayan each then agreed to guard Bali’s kingdom for four months. The four months when Shri Narayan is in King Bali’s service came to be known as Chaturmaas. The Raksha Bandhan festival began when Lakshmiji tied a rakdhi on King Bali. Since that day, this celebration also came to be known as Bali-eva or Baleva.

Rituals:

  • A sister ties a rakhdi on the right hand of the brother, symbolizing protection. The sister also puts a piece of freshly prepared sweet in her brother’s mouth.
  • A brother gives his sister a present as a token of his appreciation and promises to protect her.
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