Raksha Bandhan

Informant: RG

Ethnicity: Indian

Primary Language: English, Telugu

Age: 21

Text: [RG] Every year for Raksha Bandhan, I perform aarti, tie a rakhi around my brother’s wrist, and then feed him sweets. After that, he buys me a gift. I usually feel closer with my brother afterwards.

Context: Raksha Bandhan is an annual Hindu ritual that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters; sisters pray for their brothers’ happiness and well-being, and in return, brothers vow to protect and cherish their sisters. Aarti is the waving of a lit lamp (typically in a clockwise motion) in front of the image of a god, or a person being honored. Rakhis are a sacred thread that are meant to be worn until it falls off the wrist naturally. 

Analysis: Raksha Bandhan primarily serves to reinforce the relationship between siblings. In Hinduism, one’s connection to god is one of the purest forms of love they can form; by performing aarti for their brothers, sisters are equating their love for them to their love for god. The rakhis themselves are a physical symbol of the sister’s love, and the brother’s protection. Raksha Bandhan fosters a deeper sense of loyalty, connection, and duty to family, all of which are deeply tied to Indian culture within the household.