What is Raksha Bandhan? Meaning & Significance of Rakhi

What is Raksha Bandhan? Meaning & Significance of Rakhi

Rakhi, also called Raksha Bandhan, is one of the holy events that is cherished &   celebrated in India and by Indians in other countries. It falls in August on the full moon day of Shravan Maas, this colourful festival is an iconic portrayal of the strong and unflinching relationship of love, protection, and respect between siblings. It is the day to celebrate Rakhi, let us take some time to know the meaning and significance of this special occasion, and to understand the overarching importance and immeasurable values of Rakhi gifts.

What is the Meaning of Raksha Bandhan?

Raksha Bandhan, commonly known as Rakhi, is a cherished Hindu festival that honors the unique bond between brothers and sisters. The term "Raksha Bandhan" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "Raksha," meaning protection, and "Bandhan," meaning to tie. Therefore, the festival signifies "the tie or knot of protection."

During Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a sacred thread called Rakhi around their brothers' wrists, symbolizing their love and prayers for their brothers' well-being. In return, brothers pledge to protect and support their sisters throughout their lives. This celebration of love and duty extends beyond just blood relations; it is also observed among cousins, sisters and sisters-in-law (Bhabhi), aunts (Bua), nephews (Bhatija), and other close relationships. The festival beautifully represents the enduring and protective nature of these bonds.

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What is the religious significance of Raksha Bandhan?

Raksha Bandhan, primarily a Hindu festival, is celebrated with great enthusiasm across India, transcending religious boundaries. While its origins are rooted in Hindu traditions, its essence of love, protection, and familial bonds resonates with people from various religions. Here's how Raksha Bandhan is viewed and celebrated among different religious communities in India:


In Hinduism, Raksha Bandhan is one of the most significant festivals. It involves sisters tying a Rakhi (sacred thread) around their brothers' wrists, praying for their well-being, and in return, brothers vow to protect their sisters. The festival is marked by family gatherings, feasts, and the exchange of gifts.


Jains also celebrate Raksha Bandhan with similar fervor. For them, it symbolizes the bond of protection and love not just among siblings but also within the broader community. Jains perform rituals and tie Rakhi threads, reinforcing their commitment to support and protect each other.


In Sikhism, Raksha Bandhan is known as "Rakhardi" or "Rakhari." Sikh families celebrate the festival to honor the bond between brothers and sisters. The customs are similar, with sisters tying Rakhis on their brothers' wrists and brothers pledging to protect their sisters. The festival is an opportunity for family reunions and celebrations.


While Raksha Bandhan is not a traditional Islamic festival, many Muslim families in India participate in the celebrations, especially in regions with significant Hindu-Muslim populations. The spirit of the festival – love, protection, and the strengthening of familial bonds – appeals to people across religious divides, making it a beautiful example of cultural integration.


Christian families in India, particularly those living in multi-religious communities, sometimes join in the Raksha Bandhan festivities. The festival's universal themes of love and protection resonate with Christian values, and some Christian sisters and brothers partake in the ritual of tying and receiving Rakhis.

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Origins and Practices of Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan, often referred to as Rakhi, is a traditional Hindu festival with deep historical and cultural roots. The festival, which celebrates the bond of protection between brothers and sisters, has a rich origin story that spans mythology, history, and folklore. Here are some of the key origins and legends associated with Raksha Bandhan:

Mythological Origins

  • Draupadi and Krishna: One of the most popular legends associated with Raksha Bandhan is that of Draupadi and Lord Krishna from the Indian epic Mahabharata. According to the story, Draupadi once tore a strip of her sari and tied it around Krishna’s bleeding wrist to stop the bleeding. Touched by her gesture, Krishna vowed to protect her and later fulfilled this promise during her moment of dire need in the Kaurava court.
  • Indra and Indrani: Another mythological reference comes from the Vedic period. The story goes that during a war between gods and demons, Indra, the king of the gods, was losing. His wife, Indrani, prepared a talisman (Raksha) and tied it around Indra’s wrist for his protection and success in battle. This ritual, performed on the full moon day of Shravana, is believed to have given rise to the festival.
  • Yama and Yamuna: According to another legend, Yama, the god of death, had a sister named Yamuna who tied a Rakhi on his wrist, giving him immortality. Touched by her affection, Yama declared that any brother who has a Rakhi tied by his sister and offers her protection would also achieve immortality.

    Historical Origins

    • Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun: A significant historical account involves Rani Karnavati of Mewar and the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Facing an invasion by Bahadur Shah, Rani Karnavati sent a Rakhi to Humayun, seeking his protection. Humayun, moved by the gesture, immediately set out to defend her kingdom, although he arrived too late to prevent the invasion. This story highlights the festival’s role in forging bonds of protection beyond familial ties.
    • Alexander the Great and King Porus: Another historical reference comes from the time of Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. It is said that Alexander's wife, Roxana, sent a sacred thread to Porus, the Indian king, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In respect of the Rakhi, Porus refrained from attacking Alexander directly.

      Cultural Significance

      Raksha Bandhan has evolved over centuries to become a widespread cultural festival celebrated across India. The rituals may vary by region, but the central theme remains the same: a sister's love and prayers for her brother’s well-being and a brother’s vow to protect his sister. The festival is marked by the tying of the Rakhi, the exchange of gifts, and family gatherings, reinforcing familial bonds and social harmony.

      The Essence of Rakhi

      1. A Bond of Protection

      Picture of brother and sister tying rakhiThe bond of love, the bond of protection

        The word “Raksha” is derived from the term “Protection” & The word “Bandhan” implies the relation of “Bond”. Raksha Bandhan therefore means protection and the association of protection with the ‘Rakhi’ piece shows that protection is well-guarded. It is a traditional belief that on this day of the year, sisters place a small and sacred piece of thread, known as Rakhi, around the wrist of their brothers to mark their entreaty for their brothers’ safety and welfare. In return, men represent brothers and undertake to take care of their sisters all the time.

        Read more: Raksha Bandhan 2024: 24 Thoughtful Gift Ideas to Delight Your Sister!

        2. Cultural and Historical Roots

        Decorated Rakhis in one plate
        When culture bends with tradition 

          Rakhi holds historical importance and has been described in Mahabharat and Valmiki Ramayana. Many tales have been associated with this day and out of all the stories the famous one is the tale of queen Karnavati of Chittor and Emperor Humayun. Facing a threat from Bahadur Shah, Queen Karnavati sent a Rakhi to Humayun, seeking protection. Touched by her gesture, Humayun honored the Rakhi and came to her aid, illustrating the festival's essence of protection and solidarity.

          The Rituals of Rakhi

          1. Preparation and Celebration

          Picture of Rakhi Gifts and Rakhi
          Gift Smiles and Surprises this Raksha Bandhan 

            Rakhi celebrations are not limited to a single day, preparations for Rakhi start way earlier. Markets are filled with Rakhis, fruits and sweets, and other gifts with saffron colors. This celebration is held in the families on the day of Raksha Bandhan. Sisters make up a Rakhi Thali, which includes sweets, a diya (lighted lamp), and rice.

            Read more: The Perfect Gift: Jewellery for Your Sister

            2. The Ceremony

              The ceremony typically involves the following steps:

              Aarti: In return, sisters, as a sign of their obedience, conduct a ritual called aarti where a lighted lamp is waved in front of God, a brother, etc.

              Picture of Aarti Thali

               Divine Blessings: Celebrate the Spirit

              Tying the Rakhi: The sisters, in turn, put a Rakhi around the brother’s wrist and apply the tilak on his forehead along with offering sweets.

              Exchange of Gifts: Men bring gifts to women in order to demonstrate their affection for them, which is the reason why brothers gift their sisters.

              Givas Rakhi Gifts

              Mixing love, blessings and happiness all together 

              Feasting: The day usually ends with a family gathering meal that conveys celebration among family members at large.

              Read more: 5 Unique Rakhis to Connect with Your Long-Distance Brother

              The Symbolism of Rakhi

              1. String of love and protection

                          Golden Personalised Peacock Rakhi

                It might seem at first that the Rakhi thread is not very symbolic; indeed, the idea is quite straightforward. It depicts the sister’s affection, concern, and supplication for the brothers’ wellbeing. In exchange, the brother’s promise of protection plays the male support system and encourages aspects of her life.

                2. Unity and Harmony

                            Silver Personalised Eternal Swastik Rakhi

                  Rakhi signifies not only the biological bond but also the principle of coming together, oneness. It nurtures responsibility and concern among the siblings and among the members of the compound or progeny, making them responsible citizens in the society.

                  3. Gender Equality and Respect

                           Golden Blossom Lumba Rakhi

                    Sisters tying the Rakhi onto the brother has however shifted a bit with most celebrations taking over from the traditional. It is even the tradition for sisters to get Rakhis from their brothers to show that they respect each other and that the brothers will protect the sisters. It is an evolving practice that puts priority on gender issues specifically focusing on how both male and female partners should fairly take care and provide for each other.

                    Read more: 60+ Raksha Bandhan Quotes and Rakhi Options for Your Beloved Brother

                    Rakhi in Modern Times

                    1. Adapting Traditions

                      Today, Rakhi is not limited to siblings only but also friends, relatives living far away, or even just for the cause. Friends, especially guides in the life of man, also receive Rakhis, which expands the circle of the protectors and, therefore, the sphere of the festival.

                      2. Virtual Celebrations

                        For instance, due to the geographical dispersion of families in the current world, virtual celebrations are prevalent. Rakhi through online Rakhi shopping and digital greetings make true to the essence of Raksha Bandhan making the festival special despite geographic barriers.

                        3. Rakhi and Social Change

                          This has also been used as a cultural tool in bringing about change within society. Women in many regions of India bind Rakhis on the soldiers, police, and all such individuals as they fight for the protection of society. Efforts are made by environmental activists to ensure that they fix the Rakhis they are applying to trees in order to ensure that they protect the environment.

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                          Perhaps it is because of such traditions and contemporary practices that rakhi continues to be a festival of culture as well as emotions. It is a symbol of love, shelter, and especially the brother-sister relationship. Despite its rituals and celebrations, Raksha Bandhan presents values inherent to care, togetherness, and respect in human relations as a tradition that remains popular and meaningful for generations and geographical areas. 

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