Celebrating Raksha Bandhan.

As the day approaches for Rakhi Poornima, which comes mainly in august, a festival  called ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is celebrated on this auspicious occasion on full moon day. Mostly all Indian festivals are celebrated according to the lunar calender, and full moons are associated with birth of great saints and Gods and major festivals also fall accordingly.

Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the love and trust between brother and sister. even cousin brothers and sisters celebrate. And those who are not connected through the bloodline and still celebrate it , cherish a brother- sister relationship through love and trust. When the sister ties rakhi on the right wrist of her brother she prays for her brothers safety and prosperity at all times and in return the brother vows to protect her sister at all times.

The streets and shops are filled with rakhi stalls days before the festival. Brothers and sisters start shopping for gifts they would exchange on the day. Gifts can be anything from clothes to accessories and gadgets  and appliances anything. It is also customary to offer sweets, fruits, handkerchiefs, clothes and coconuts.

The rich Indian Mythology provides a religious reason to celebrate the day in a specific way. Many epics are related to the day and the origin of Raksha Bandhan.

The Legend of Bhavishya Puran

The legend refers to a war between the Gods and the Demons. The demon King Brutra was advancing and the Gods lead by lord Indra, were on verge of defeat. The king of Gods, Indra approached Guru Brihaspati to find a solution to the situation. Brihaspati asked Indra to tie a sacred thread on his wrist, powered by the sacred mantras on the Shravan Purnima. Lord Indra’s Queen Sachi also called Indrani, empowered the thread and tied it on to his hand on the decided day. The power of the sacred thread called Raksha helped the Gods to victory.
The tradition of thread tying still continues. It is a gesture of goodwill.

Yama and Yamuna

It is said that the Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna. Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared thar whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection will become immortal.

Alexander the Great and King Puru

According to one legendary narrative, when Alexander the great  invaded India in 326 BC, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, a Katoch king, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.

Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun

A popular narrative that is centered around Rakhi is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah , she sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Touched, the Emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor.Humayun arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah managed to sack the Rani’s fortress. Karnavati, along with a reported 13,000 other women in the fortress, carried out Jauhar on March 8, 1535, killing themselves to avoid dishonor while the men threw the gates open and rode out on a suicidal charge against Bahadur Shah’s troops. When he reached Chittor, Humayun evicted Bahadur Shah from fort and restored the kingdom to Karnavati’s son, Vikramjit Singh.

Krishna and Draupadi

Another incident from the epic Mahabharata concerns Krishna  and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She had once torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to staunch the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that. Draupadi, in spite of being married to five great warriors and being a daughter of a powerful monarch, trusted and depended wholly on Krishna. Krishna repaid the debt of love during the “Cheer-Haran” (literally “clothing-removing”) of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarashtra when Yudhistira lost her to the kauravas in gambling. At that time, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree through divine intervention, so it could not be removed, to save her honor. This is how he honored his rakhi vow towards Draupadi.

Rakhis are mainly made of colorful threads, sometimes beaded and stuck with motifs and crystals and stones, even precious stones.

The sister ties the rakhi at a appropriate time of the day normally called ‘mahurat’ (A special time when the specified work gets best of results) . She prepares a ‘thali'(Plate consisting of , rakhi, lighted lamp, sweets, rice grains, chandan powder, kumkum or sindoor (Vermillion),coconut, handkerchief &  money.

The sister then puts a ’tilak’ on her brothers forehead, she puts chandan powder, then kumkum, and then rice grains also called as ‘akshat’. then she does ‘arti’ ( to rotate the thali around the face of the brother in clockwise motion), then she ties the rakhi on his right hand sometimes even uttering a mantra ie Yenabaddho Baleeraja, Daanavendro Mahabalaha Thethathwa mabhi badhnami, Rakshamachala maachala Meaning-” On the request of all the Gods, Vishnu tied up the strong and powerful demon King Bali with his strength. I am tying the power of Vishnu Shakti  in the form of raksha on your hand,With the force and energy of this thread, all the Gods will stand at your side and keep you healthy and wealthy forever. Then she offers him coconut, handkerchief, clothes and whatever gifts she has brought for him and in the end they feed each other sweets.

On some occasion rakhi is also tied to the brothers wife on her left wrist, to uncles and sometimes father and even husband, all wishing the same safety and prosperity of the person. Happy Raksha Bandhan.


The Indian attire – SAREE

Being an Indian Saree is not new for me , but for some it is totally a new subject. I would like to share a bit about it. It is a elongated stretch of cloth material, from 5 to 9 meters as required by the style of draping. Sarees are made of different materials. There are a variety which you can choose from depending upon the persons taste. You can get it in varied colors whatever you may think of. Sarees are weaved out of different materials like cotton, silk, georgette, chiffon,  polyester,crepe  etc.  They are either hand loom made which are expensive or machine weaved. It can we worn for any function , at home in office, marriages, just anywhere. There are different ways of draping it. It’s draping style changes from region to religion, from north to south, depending upon the culture, and history and climatic conditions.

Women of Tamil Nadu wear silk sarees on special occasions. The Brahmin community wear the saree in a slightly different way without wearing the long skirt. The length of the saree which they wear is longer (nine yards) than the usual one. It is wound separately on both legs in a proper way without restricting the person’s free movement.
Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu and Mysore in Karnataka are famous for their unique silk and cotton sarees.
Andhra Pradesh is famous for its cotton sarees which is designed with jerry and thread. The sarees woven at Venkatagiri and Pochhampalli in Andhra are famous. Cotton sarees of Bengal is ideal as a summer wear.
In Kerala, women wear their traditional two piece cloth called mundu and neriyathu. The ‘mundu’ (one piece) is draped on the lower part of the body. The second piece; ‘neriyathu’ is worn on top, over a blouse in the same way as the sarees. This mundu also called ‘Settu Mundu’ is the traditional attire. The mundu was worn in a different way by the women of the royal families.Sarees are worn in different ways in many places,especially in Gujarat, Manipur, Maharashtra and Coorg (Karnataka).Saris are woven with one plain end (the end that is concealed inside the wrap), two long decorative borders running the length of the sari, and a one to three foot section at the other end which continues and elaborates the length-wise decoration. This end is called the pallu; it is the part thrown over the shoulder in the nivi style of draping.
The most commonly used method is depicted in the pic below.
In past times, saris were woven of silk or cotton. The rich could afford finely-woven, diaphanous silk saris that, according to folklore, could be passed through a finger ring. The poor wore coarsely woven cotton saris. All saris were handwoven and represented a considerable investment of time or money.
Simple hand-woven villagers’ saris are often decorated with checks or stripes woven into the cloth. Inexpensive saris were also decorated with block printingusing carved wooden blocks and vegetable dyes, or tie-dyeing, known in India as bhandani work.
More expensive saris had elaborate geometric, floral, or figurative ornaments or brocades created on the loom, as part of the fabric. Sometimes warp and weft threads were tie-dyed and then woven, creating ikat patterns. Sometimes threads of different colors were woven into the base fabric in patterns; an ornamented border, an elaborate pallu, and often, small repeated accents in the cloth itself. These accents are called buttis or bhuttis (spellings vary). For fancy saris, these patterns could be woven with gold or silver thread, which is called zari work.
Sometimes the saris were further decorated, after weaving, with various sorts of embroidery. Resham work is embroidery done with colored silk thread. Zardozi embroidery uses gold and silver thread, and sometimes pearls and precious stones. Cheap modern versions of zardozi use synthetic metallic thread and imitation stones, such as fake pearls and Swarovski crystals.
Sarees are a part of our culture and we have a reverence for the outfit.
            If you still have problems regarding how to drape a saree , you can view this thread and learn more about it