We love our siblings, but how often do we set aside time to truly express our appreciation for everything our siblings do for us?

Raksha Bandhan, also referred to as Rakhi, is a festival in India that celebrates the emotional and protective bond between a sister and a brother. The expression “Raksha Bandhan” translates in English to “a bond of protection, obligation, or care.”

When is Raksha Bandhan?

The exact date of Raksha Bandhan is different each year. In 2018, Raksha Bandhan is on August 26th, which is the last day (or full moon day) of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravana.

It’s also a day to celebrate the bond with people outside of family, and many partake in the ritual of honoring their appreciation for each other.

A brief history on Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan has its roots in the teachings of Hinduism, and many ancient legends and stories refer to this festival. Below is a video that briefly goes over the history of the holiday:

How do siblings celebrate Raksha Bandhan?

In India, Raksha Bandhan is centered around a ritual of the tying of a thread (rakhi) on the wrist as an expression of the dedication to protecting the other sibling or person. The protection is offered mostly by sisters to brothers, in certain regions, it’s also a ritual performed by priests to patrons.

The festival is celebrated a little differently in each region of India, but it almost always begins with the sister finding a gift to offer to her brother. Sisters will first find a rakhi by searching for one made with colorful threads, beads, or amulets.

On the day of Raksha Bandhan, the sister and brother wear new outfits and, in front of parents, grandparents, or other elders, the sister ties the rakhi on her brother’s wrist, while prayers are said aloud. The sister also applies a tilak (colorful marking) on her brother’s forehead, and an aarti is performed as a wish for a long and healthy life for her brother.  

For expressing their protection, the sister receives a gift (sometimes in the form of money) and a pledge of protection from her brother in return. The exchange of sweets or dried fruit may also happen during this ceremony. The brother may wear the rakhi for a few days or all the way until Diwali.

Raksha Bandhan celebrations in the United States

Many of India’s overseas communities participate in Raksha Bandhan all over the U.S. The festival is celebrated similarly in the U.S. as it is in India, with the ritual of sisters tying a rakhi on their brother and wishing for health and a long life, and the brother returning a gift and a pledge.

Some have siblings who live abroad, but they still celebrate the festival with an exchange of gifts or money. Raksha Bandhan is the perfect day to show your siblings how much you care about them, no matter where they are in the world, and you can easily send them money through Remitly.

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