May 24, 2013: Rohini Karthe
May 25, 2013: Maha Vaishaka Buddha Poornima
May 28, 2013: Sankatahara Chaturthi, Karthari Tyagam
The Hindu month of Sravanamasam is full of festivals and celebrations. Come the Sravanam full moon day (Sravana Poornima), people across India celebrate one of the most awaited festival – the Rakhi or the Raksha Bandhan. The festival is the celebration of the relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is celebrated tying a Rakhi or a holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and promises to take care of her as long as he lives. Traditionally, they both feed each other sweets. The Rakhi is similar to a friendship band but is more richly decorated with art works. Though Rakhi threads are personally made during the good old days, they are bought from the market and are easily available.
It is not necessary that the rakhi can be given only to a brother by birth; any male can be "adopted" or considered as a brother by tying a rakhi to the person. Hence Rakhi can be tied to brothers by blood, to cousins or to a good friend. Indian history is replete with women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers, nor Hindus themselves. Rani Karnavati of Chittor has sent a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun when she was threatened by Bahadur Shah of Mewar. Humayun abandoned an ongoing military campaign to ride to her rescue.
The origin of the festival is mostly attributed that of Draupadi and Krishna during the Rajsuya Yaga. According to the legend, after Shishupal's death, Krishna was left with a bleeding finger. Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas comes forward, tears a strip of silk sari and ties it around Krishna's wrist to staunch the flow of blood. Touched by her concern, Krishna declares himself bound to her by her brotherly love. He promises to repay the debt manifold at an appropriate time (Needless to say, Lord Krishna has helped Pandavas during various phases all through the Mahabarath, particularly in the Kurukshetra episode). After a lapse of several years when Draupudi was about to be shamed by being disrobed in front of the whole court by her evil brother in law Duryodhana, she prayed Lord Krishna to help her and did by divinely elongating her sari so that it could not be remove. According to another legend the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own abode in Vaikunta. Goddess Lakshmi wished to be with her lord back in her abode. She went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman to seek refuge till her husband came back. During the Sravana Poornima celebrations, Lakshmi ties the sacred thread to the King. Upon being asked she revealed who she was and why she was there. The king was touched by her goodwill for his family and her purpose and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord. Historically speaking, Yamuna, the sister of Lord Yama (the God of Death) ties Rakhi to her brother Lord Yama. Touched with her love, Lord Yama bestowed immortality to her and declares that who so ever ties the Rakhi thread to their brother will be blessed.
While Raksha Bandhan is celebrated all over the country, different parts of the country mark the day in different ways. These celebrations happen to fall on the same day, and may not have anything to do with Raksha Bandhan itself or Rakhi. Perhaps the single most important way of celebrating Raksha Bandhan is by tying the rakhi. A sister ties a rakhi to the wrist of her brother. The tying of a rakhi signifies her asking of her brother for his protection and love for the sister. The brother in turn, accepts the rakhi, confirms his love and affection for his sister and shows this with gifts and money. It is a family event where all members of family, dressed in finery, gather and celebrate. The tying of rakhi is followed by a family feast.
There is no specific mention of the time of giving a Rakhi to a brother. Hence Rakhi can be tied at any part of the day on the Sravana poornima day. It is a general practice to tie the Rakhi is the first-half of the day than the second-half. It is also customary in India to send a Rakhi by postal mail to their brothers when it is not possible to meet him personally.
It is unfortunate that Rakhi 2008 falls on the same day a Partial Lunar Eclipse appears. It is not a common that Raksha Bandhan falls on an Eclipse Day. Though this is not a favourable event, we should consider ourselves lucky that the eclipse is a Lunar Eclipse (occurs post-sunset) while the Rakhi is celebrated in the pre-noon session. Further, the Eclipse is a partial one which means that its visibility and impact from an astrological perspective will be releatively less compared to a Full Eclipse. Hence Rakhi for 2008 can be celebrated like any other Rakhi Day without any specific regard to the Lunar Eclipse.