Rakhi is deeply ingrained in Hindu culture, and with a such a multicultural society, it is no surprise that Rakhi has spread to so many countries including Australia. To understand why so many Indian people continue to send Rakhi to Australia, you should learn what it is and why it is so important. Here is everything you need to know to understand Rakhi.
What is Rakhi?
Rakhi or ‘Raksha Bandhan’, is a special occasion that celebrates the emotional bond between brother and sister, by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread is believed to show the sibling love, and means ‘a bond of protection’. The word ‘Raksha’ means protection, and ‘Bandhan’ is the verb for tying something. Raksha Bandhan not only symbolises this bond between brother and sister, but that the belief that the ‘strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil’. It is believed that the tying of a Rakhi onto the hand of the man, means that he must honour his religious duty to protect the female doing the tying. It is also believed that the Rakhi removes sin from one hand and provides safety to the other. The mantra that follows the tying of the Rakhi is chanted in either Sanskrit or Punjabi, and the Raksha Bandhan ritual takes place on the full moon day of Shravan (the Hindu month). On this day, the sister will tie the Rahki string on the right wrist of their brother, while praying for their long life and celebrating their relationship. At the end of the ceremony, the sister will place a sweet in her mouth, and her brother will then give a small amount of money in appreciation.
What is the Rakhi string?
Typically, the Rakhi string is made of silk with gold and silver threads, sequins and studded with semi precious stones. The protection by the Rakhi string remains for a year.
How the ritual has changed
While Raksha Bandhan was originally focused on the love and adoration between brothers and sisters, it is not uncommon for it to be used outside the family as well. People may choose to tie the Rakhi onto their friends or neighbours, and girls often use the Rakhi to establish with boys that they only wish to have a sisterly relationship with them and not a romantic one. Throughout history, Rakhi was used to maintain political ties between kingdoms and princely states. Queens would send Rakhis to kings as an offer of help and protection, and Rakhis where also used to establish matrimonial alliances. They are also used by priests for congregation members, between close friends, between women and the prime minister, and on soldiers.
The Rakhi today
Rakhi is used to induce fellow-feeling, open up communication and expression, rework the role that people are all sisters and brothers at the end of the day, and as a reminder of happiness and prosperity, as shared by Hindu belief.
Raksha Bandhan has evolved over the years, and is of great importance to many people in Hindu society. As Hindus spread across the world, so they continue to take this important tradition with them, and so they are starting to bring Rakhi to Australia.