Why is it celebrated?
The chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means 'a bond of protection'
The Social Binding - This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcends the confines of the family. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters. All members of the community commit to protect each other and the society in such congregational Rakhi Utsavs, popularized by the Nobel laureate Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore
When is it celebrated?
Raksha Bhandan is celebrated on the full-moon day in the month of Sravana (July-August)
How is it celebrated?
On the day of Rakhi, sisters prepares the pooja thali with diya, roli, chawal, rakhi thread and sweets. The ritual begins with a prayer in front of God, then the sister ties Rakhi to her brother and wishes for his happiness and well-being. In turn, the brother acknowledge the love with a promise to stand by his sister through all the good and bad times. Sisters tie Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers amid chanting of mantras, put roli and rice on his forehead and pray for his well-being. She bestows him with gifts and blessings. In turn, brothers also wish her a good life and pledges to take care of her. He gives her a return gift. The gift symbolizes the physical acceptance of her love, reminder of their togetherness and his pledge. The legends and the reference in history repeated, the significance of the festival is emphasized
* The festival of Raksha Bandhan is similar to Karthikay in Kartika (October-November) in South India. On this day, sisters offer food to brothers to wish them a long life. The festival is an occassion to strengthen the bond between a brother and a sister. In South India, The Raksha Bandhan full moon day is a household festival for the men, where the sacred thread is ceremoniously changed
* The coconut as prasad - 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 man’s nourishment. The hard shell expresses God’s 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
* Social Significance - Rituals like Rakhi, there is no doubt, help ease out various societal strains, induce fellow-feeling, open up channels of expression, give us an opportunity to rework on our role as human beings and, most importantly, bring joy in our mundane lives
[Src: http://www.aryabhatt.com/fast_fair_festival/Festivals/Rakshabandhan.htm, http://hinduism.about.com/od/rakhi/a/rakshabandhan.htm]