The festival is made up of two words, namely “Raksha” and “Bandhan.” As per the Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means “the tie or knot of protection” where “Raksha” stands for the protection and “Bandhan” signifies the verb to tie. Together, the festival symbolizes the eternal love of a brother-sister relationship which does not mean just the blood relationships only. It is also celebrated among cousins, sister, and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija) and other such relations.
Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shraavana, which typically falls in August. The festival of Raksha Bandhan is observed as a symbol of duty between brothers and sisters. The occasion is meant to celebrate any type of brother-sister relationship between men and women who may not be biologically related. The protection is offered principally by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, ritually protecting their brothers, receiving a gift from them in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care. The expression “Raksha Bandhan,” Sanskrit, literally, “the bond of protection, obligation, or care,” is now principally applied to this ritual. It has also applied to a similar ritual in which a domestic priest ties amulets, charms, or threads on the wrists of his patrons and receives gifts of money. A ritual associated with Salerno includes the sisters placing shoots of barley behind the ears of their brothers.
On this day, a sister ties a rakhi around the wrist of her brother in order to pray for his prosperity, health, and well-being. The brother in return offers gifts and promises to protect his sister from any harm and under every circumstance. The festival is also celebrated between brother-sister belonging to distant family members, relatives or cousins.
Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgment of their benefaction.
Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated by Hindu communities in other parts of the world.
The festival is mainly celebrated by the Hindus in the northern and western parts of India along with countries like Nepal, Pakistan, and Mauritius.
Jainism- The occasion is also revered by the Jain community where Jain priests give ceremonial threads to the devotees.
This festival devoted to the brother-sister love is observed by the Sikhs as “Rakhardi” or Rakhari.