In Sanskrit, the name of this festival literally means “the bond of protection, obligation, or care”.
This is a special festival which is celebrated in India and other Asian countries such as Nepal, Pakistan and Mauritius, and around the world where people from those cultures have settled. It is shared by people of three faiths – Hindu, Jain, and Sikh.
The name comes from Raksha means ‘protection’ and bandhan means ‘to tie’ in Sanskrit, and is a festival which celebrates the love between brothers and sisters. The name comes from the tradition on this day of girls and married women tying a rakhi (amulet or bracelet) on the right wrists of their brothers, as a symbol of their prayers for his prosperity, health, wellbeing. In response, the brother offers a gifts and promises to protect his sister from any harm and under every circumstance.
The festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Shravana, which typically falls in August month in the Gregorian calendar. This year it is on 15 August in the UK.
Although it celebrates the love of brother and sister, this is not always taken as simply blood relationships. The love between cousins, sister & sister-in-law, fraternal aunt & nephew, and other types of brother-sister relationship are also celebrated. In Jainism, this is extended even further as Jain priests give ceremonial threads to devotees of the faith.