Sravana Pournima on the Lunar Calendar, falling somewhere in the month of August, is celebrated as the festivity of Raksha Bandhan celebrated by one and all across the country.
Raksha Bandhan is a festival of brothers and sisters. The festival strengthens the bond between brother and sister. A sister ties a Bandhan (colourful thread) around her brother's wrist and he in return takes responsibility of her Raksha (protection).
As is the case with any other festival, the day starts off with a traditional head bath. The sisters fast and perform aarti (the ritual of lighting the camphor) to their brothers, apply tilak on their foreheads praying for the well being and prosperity of their brothers. They then tie the Rakhi on to the right wrists of the brothers and make them take a bite of some sweets.
It is customary on the part of the brothers too, to gift some money or valuables to their sisters. While the sisters fast till the ritual is finished, the brother and sister then have lunch together. It also is a practice of this lunch being in the house of the sister. The ritual of Rakhi thus signifies the duty of the strong to protect the weaker under all circumstances.
Once, Indra was confronted by the demon king - the Daitya-raaja - in a long-drawn battle. At one stage, the Daitya-raaja got better of Indra and drove him into wilderness. Indra, humbled and crest-fallen, sought the advice of Brihaspati, the Guru of Gods. The Guru told him to bide his time, prepare himself and then march against his adversary. He also indicated that the auspicious moment for sallying forth was the Shraavana Poornima. On that day, Shachee Devi, the wife of Indra, and Brihaspati tied Raakhis around Indra's right-wrist. Indra then advanced against the Daitya-raaja, vanquished him and reestablished his sovereignty.
Yet another reference is that of Queen Karunavati of Mewar and King Humayun of Delhi. Under a helpless situation in a war against Bahadur Shah, the King of Gujarat, Queen Karunavati is known to have sent a Rakhi to King Humayun seeking his help. And Humayun indeed had come to her rescue cutting short an attack on Bengal. But, Karunavathi was defeated and had killed herself to avoid captivity. But, Humayun, owing to the sanctity of Rakhi has waged a war against Bahadur Shah, killed him in the battle and resurrected the Mewar crown to the descendants of the Queen. Such is the power of Rakhi.
History has it that wife of Alexander The Great, has tied Rakhi to King Porus seeking protection by sparing her husband in the war. And King Porus is known to have left Alexander unharmed owing to the sanctity of Rakhi, in spite of his having an opportunity to sever the head of Alexander.
On the full moon day of Shravan, after one or two months of heavy rains and strong winds, the sea becomes calm. On this day boats are allowed to launch into the sea again. But before doing so the sea is worshipped by throwing a coconut ("naral") into the water. In this way Varun, the god of the water, is worshipped.
The coconut is a fruit full of symbolism. It is known as "Shriphal", or "divine fruit". Within its hard shell it contains food and drink, the two essential elements God has placed in creation for manís nourishment. The hard shell expresses Godís desire that man should enjoy the fruits of the earth through personal effort. The coconut is the most common fruit used as an offering to God. The effort needed to break the shell represents the element of sacrifice. The kernel and the water are first offered to God and then shared with all those present, and also taken home to be shared with relatives and neighbours as "prasad", or food blessed by God.
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