Last weekend I had my cousins over for dinner to celebrate the Indian festival of Raksha Bhandhan. Raksha Bhandan celebrates the bond that exists between brothers and sisters and is observed every year in August. The relationship between siblings is a very special one and this unique bond is celebrated during Raksha Bhandan. It is a day when siblings pray for each other’s well-being and happiness. Though traditionally Raksha Bhandan is observed mostly in Northern and Northwestern parts of India and in Nepal; this festival of sibling love has spread to other parts of India today.
Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
The two words in Raksha Bhandan in Sanskrit mean “Raksha” which stands for protection and “Bandhan” which signifies the verb – to tie. Raksha Bhandan translates to “the tie or knot of protection“. In essence the festival of Raksha Bhandan symbolizes the eternal love of brother-sister relationship, which can also include the relationships between relatives or cousins, among sister-in-laws, and other such familial relationships. In some cases, even friends who think of each other as siblings observe Raksha Bhandan.
Raksha Bhandan is observed with the tying of the Rakhi
On the day of Raksha Bhandan siblings, especially brothers and sisters, celebrate by tying a thread or a knot (similar to a frienship bracelet) around her brother’s wrist, symbolically expressing her love for him and seeking his protection in return. The brother in return offers gifts and promises to protect his sister from any harm.
Last year when my sisters and brother and our families met for a holiday in Maui in August, we celebrated Raksha Bhandan with locally made Hawaiian bracelets.
These days, our family has decided to make an addendum to the festival of Raksha Bhandan by celebrating the love and support that sisters can given each other as well. We started a new tradition of tying the Rakhi among sisters – with the premise that sisters can protect and always love each other.
In today’s world when siblings are spread out all over the country or live in different parts of the world, Raksha Bhandan is still observed by many families – every August Rakhis are mailed to siblings all over the world. When the brother receives the Rakhi he will ask someone to tie the Rakhi on the day of Raksha Bhandan. Hitesh has been receiving a Rakhi every year in the mail all the way from Kenya from his cousin Muni for over 30 years!
Relationships are the essence of any family festivity and that holds true for Raksha Bhandan which is at it’s core a celebration of family togetherness. Here is a look at this year’s Raksha Bhandan celebration with my cousins Nando, Mahesh and their families.
Rakshabandan 2018. Celebrating with the cousins.
A few family pictures before tying the Rakhi.
The lighting was perfect at sunset for a few lovely pics.
Time to tie the Rakhi on my cousin Nando.
A Rakhi for my cousin Mahesh.
Rakhis for sisters too.
This year I decided to make an Italian-themed Raksha Bandan dinner. When I told my cousins what the cuisine was my cousin Nando requested I make eggplant parmesan. I had never made this before and this dinner seemed like the perfect gathering to give it a try. Here is a look at our vegetairan Italian dinner for the evening.
Raksha Bhandan Italian Dinner Menu
Rani’s goat cheese and apple on cracker
Warm pull-apart cheesy bread – Uma
Getting ready for dinner. Prepping the appetizers.
Dinner is ready!
A simple dessert of cookies and gelato.
A toast to a fun evening celebrating brothers, sisters, cousins and family 💛💙❤️💚!
Ending the night with relaxing conversation and a board game.
Happy Raksha Bhandan!