Rakhi: Celebrating The Brother-Sister Bond

In North India, the festival of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on full moon in the Hindu month of Shravana (July-August).

In this, the sister ties a rakhi (holy thread) on the right wrist of her brother. In turn, the brother gives her a gift and promises to look after her. They both offer sweets to each other.

Those who don’t have a brother can confer ‘honorary’ status of brother on a man by tying a rakhi. One of the better-known stories about rakhi is of a queen of the small kingdom of Chittor. Her kingdom was threatened by the Sultan of Gujarat. She promptly sent off a rakhi to the Emperor of India, Humayun. The emperor, now her ‘brother’, rode in with his army to help his ‘sister’ in distress.

Sister Puts Vermillion Tika on Brother's Forehead

Sister Puts Vermillion Tika on Brother

Ties Rakhi

Ties Rakhi

Sanjay Kumar)

Offers sweets (Photos: Sanjay Kumar)

Are there other festivals around the world that celebrate a particular relationship like Rakhi? I look forward to hearing about them from you.

Read more:
Rajasthani sweets and snacks
What do you get when you combine Hindustani music and classical world music?
Dinner in an Indian home

About the author

Sanjay Kumar
Sanjay Kumar is a linguistics graduate, advertising copywriter and an itinerant traveler. He lives in New Delhi and will be sharing more insights about life in India in the months to come.
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8 Comments

  • Very cute photos! So, a girl without a brother can just pick someone and he has to honour the commitment? Does this still happen in current times?

    In the UK we have days for honouring / thanking mothers and fathers, but that’s all (I think…)

  • Yes, it still happens! One comic flip side of this is that on Rakhi day many guys do not go to college. They do not want any girl they have a crush on to tie a Rakhi and convert them to a ‘brother’.

  • oh, that’s funny :)

  • Hmmm…. I must admit that crushes was the first thing that came to my mind when I read that a girl can choose a “brother” haha!

    So what happens in cases like my family, with 3 girls and one boy? how does this work? He’ll have to make a full time job of protecting his sisters! :)

    On a more serious note, I think it’s lovely tradition.

  • @Ana: The brother becomes a superhero, protector of all he surveys :-)

  • This is very nice post sanjay. Raksha Bandhan is really great festival of India. I think this festival shows relation between brother and sister. How much they love each other. This kind of festival is unique, because it happened only in India. We proud be on our tradition and culture. I am appreciated to work. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blogs with us and sharing this festival information to all.

  • @Kishan: Glad you liked it. And yes, as far as I know, this seems to be a uniquely Indian tradition.

  • Muthu

    Sister, god is give a gift of brother. Some brother, god is gift in sister