Raksha Bandhan is a sacred festival celebrated every year to praise the special bond of brothers and sisters. ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bond. On this day, sisters tie a rakhi (thread) around the wrist of their brother and in return, the brothers take an oath to protect their sisters from all kinds of evil. This festival is not just limited to the siblings who are related by blood. In fact, people from all colors, castes, and religions celebrate this festival by tying rakhi to their friends or someone whom they revere as a brother.
Raksha Bandhan is also known as Rakhi Purnima or Shravana Purnima as the festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the Shravana month (August) according to the Hindu calendar. Shravana is one of the most important months in the calendar as it is called the month of the Gods. Rakhi Purnima is celebrated by different rituals and it is also known by different names in every corner of India such as Kajri Purnima in central India, Pavitropana in Gujarat, Avani Attaman in South India, etc.
Kajri Purnima is celebrated on the same day as Raksha Bandhan. This day holds immense importance to the farmers as the day marks the beginning of the sowing season. Kajri Purnima is celebrated in the central states of India such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Jharkhand. This festival is celebrated to worship Goddess Bhagwati to pray for good crops as this day also marks the beginning of the sowing season. Only the women who are blessed with son participate in this ritual. They carry soil in conical cups and sow seeds of barley and wheat in it. These cups are then placed in a dark room that is away from moisture and sunlight. This room is cleaned using cow dung and mud. Pictures of a child in a cradle, a woman with a pitcher, and a mongoose are drawn using ground and colored rice. One part of the wall is also covered with cow dung as a part of the ritual. The women worship the cones daily till the evening of the full moon day, when they keep fast and wash the wall. In the evening, they carry the conical cups on their head and immerse it in the river or a pond.
Avani Avittam, also known as Upakarmam, falls on Shravana Purnima and is celebrated by various states in India such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, etc. It is the day of wisdom and Vedic studies and is mainly celebrated by the Brahmin community. On this day, they provide offering to their ancestors as a token of gratitude for their wisdom that has been passed on them. The ritual of this day is started by granting a sacred thread called Yajnopavit signifying the third eye, symbol of wisdom. The boys then take an oath to make up for their wrongdoings and then they take a dip in the holy water followed by offering to their ancestors.
Pavitropana is celebrated on the day of Shravana Purnima. It is celebrated by the people of Gujarat as they are devotees of Lord Shiva. On this day, people worship the god to seek his blessings and forgiveness for the wrong deeds done in the past. This sacred day is celebrated by soaking filaments of cotton in Panchgaivya, which is a mixture of pure cow’s ghee, milk, urine, excreta, and urine. Then, this filament is offered to Shivalinga. Pavitropana is also known as Putrada Ekadasha in Bhavishya Purana as Lord Krishna in this Purana narrated the story of how Ekadashi in Shravana month became sacred. Following is the story:
“During the Dvarparayuga, there was a king named Mahijita who ruled the kingdom of Mahismatipuri. His kingdom was cheerless to him as he had no son. He tried to have children but there was no luck. Years passed and the king grew impatient. He called a meeting with his advisors and asked them the reason for not being blessed by a son by the gods even when he had not committed any sin. The advisors took this matter to Lomasa Rishi, a sage who knew all about the past, present, and future. He meditated to know about the past life of the king and then explained about the king’s past life. He was a merchant who once rudely shoved aside a thirsty cow and her calf who were drinking water from the lake to quench his own thirst first. The sage suggested that on the day of Putrada, the king should fast in order to solve his problem and for forgiveness. The king then fasted for the day as told and he was blessed with a child.”
Lord Krishna concluded this story by saying that those who observe the day of Putrada Ekadashi will be free from his or her own sins.
Nariyal Purnima is another festival that falls on the day of the full moon in the month of Shravana. This day is celebrated by the people who depend upon the sea for their livelihood such as fisherman. It is celebrated by the coastal states of the west such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa. In this festival, coconuts are thrown in the city to offer it to the Sea of God. Hence, the name ‘Nariyal’ which means coconut in Hindi, has been given to the festival. It is believed that offering coconuts to the god brings good luck to them for sea trade.
On the day of the full moon, seamen decorate their boats for sail. They then take out their boats together, sing and dance with other seamen, offer coconut sweets to each other, have meals together, and play games. Then, they offer coconuts to the God of Sea by throwing coconuts in the water and then say their goodbyes to each other.