Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Shravana month, which typically falls in August according to the Gregorian calendar. The phrase "Raksha Bandhan" comes from the Sanskrit words "raksha," meaning protection, and "bandhan," meaning bond. On this day, sisters tie a sacred thread or rakhi on their brothers' wrists, and the brothers promise to protect their sisters always. The rakhi is a symbol of protection for the brothers, and it is available in various designs, colors, and specialties. The festival is a celebration of the love and bond between siblings.
The Raksha Bandhan festival is centered on love and protection. As we engage with our Hindu friends, we can guide the conversation toward the love and protection the gospel truth provides us.
Raksha Bandhan’s rich history dates back centuries and includes several stories from Hindu mythology. One account tells of the time when Lord Krishna cut his finger, and Draupadi bandaged his wound with the end of her sari. Because of this, he always promised to protect her, and he kept his word. The threads used during this festival were initially used as amulets, and women would tie them to their husbands when they left for war.
There are other stories from Hindu mythology that take root in Raksha Bandhan. Despite its various legends and nuances, the overarching theme of Raksha Bandhan remains the bond between siblings and the promise of protection that comes with it.
The festival of Raksha Bandhan begins with every family member rising early. The ceremony involves the preparation of a special puja thali, containing essential items such as roli, rice grains, diya, sweets, and rakhis. During the auspicious time (or muhurat), sisters put a tilak (or marking) on their brother's forehead, tie a sacred thread or rakhi on their wrist, and pray for their long life. As a gesture of affection, brothers give their sisters gifts and promise to always protect them.
When we interact with our Hindu friends, we can talk about the admirability of the festival of Raksha Bandhan and how the unconditional love and protection that is encouraged between a brother and sister is similar to the Lord's unconditional love and protection for us.
According to Hebrews 2:11, Jesus sees us as brothers and sisters: “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” And according to John 1:12-13, Christians are also considered children of God, which makes us all brothers and sisters: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Under this lens, the core of Raksha Bandhan overlaps with the call of a Christian. As we receive the love of God, we are equipped and called to love, forgive, and protect our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we discuss Christ's familial love, we can let our Hindu friends know they are invited into the Lord’s family. As Hindus may live as though they are paying off a debt, you can share that Christ removed all of our debt in one act as an invitation into His family. While Raksha Bandhan focuses on blood relationships, in the same way, the blood of Christ also binds His children together.
Finally, pray that God will use your conversation to awaken your friend's heart and help them see the Lord's extravagant love for them.