When is Raksha Bandhan 2022? Date of Hindu festival, what are rakhi gifts, traditions and history explained

Raksha Bandhan is a religious festival celebrating the sacred relationship between siblings

Th popular traditional Hindu religious festival, Raksha Bandhan, is a celebration of sibling bond. During this festival, sisters of all ages tie an amulet, or a string of thread, called Rakhi around the wrist of their brother(s), to symbolically protect them.

The festival, also known as Rakhi, Saluno, Silono or Rakri, is celebrated in various ways across South Asia with its traditions stemming thousands of years.

But when is Raksha Bandhan in 2022, and how is it celebrated? Here is what you need to know.

When is Raksha Bandhan?

A sister ties a 'Rakhi,' a sacred thread, on her brother's wrist on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan festival, which celebrates the bonds between sisters and brothers

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the last day of Shraavana, the Hindu lunar month, which usually falls in August in the Gregorian calendar.

This year, the festival takes place on Thursday 11 August.

What is the history behind Raksha Bandhan? 

In Sanskrit, Raksha Bandhan literally translates to “the bond of protection, obligation or care”, which is the underlying theme of the day.

The sibling festival has different origins with the same premise, deriving from folk culture, cultural traditions, and precedence in Hindu texts all playing a part.

The legend surrounds Lord Krishna and his friend Draupadi, a pair who embodied platonic male/female relationships. When Lord Krishna cut his finger, his friend Draupadi rushed over to help him with his wound by wrapping the loose end of her sari around his finger.

Due to her actions, Lord Krishana promised Draupadi eternal and unwavering protection.

Indian women purchase 'rakhis' (traditional wrist-bands) on the eve of the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan

Folk culture origins look at the combination of cultural traditions from the festival Saluno, where women leave the village to live with their husbands, women express their concern and devotion for their brothers by placing shoots of barley behind their ears. In return, their brother gifts them small coins.

On the same day, priests would tie a charm around the wrist of each patron and be rewarded with cash in return. Eventually, the two ceremonies merged.

In a different set of traditions in Northern India, the festival is associated with married women, when a bride would marry outside her parent’s village or town. In rural north India, Hindu women travel back home escorted by their brothers who serve as lifelong intermediaries between their sister’s married and parental homes.

According to some texts, in Indian history, rakhi has been used to strengthen relationships - with one of the oldest tales involving Alexander the Great.

During his invasion of India in 326 BCE, it is said Alexander’s wife approached King Porus and tied a rakhi around his wrist to ensure the safety of her husband.

How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated? 

A Pakistani Hindu sister ties a 'rakhi' - sacred thread - onto the wrist of her brother during the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan

The general overview of Raksha Bandhan sees a sister tying a rakhi around her brother’s wrist for protection, with her brother offering his protection for her in return.

The rakhi is usually a plain thread, in a vibrant colour - traditionally red. But rakhi’s can also be orange, green or yellow.

In West Bengal, puja’s (prayers) are offered to Krishna are performed with women tying rakhi around their brothers’ wrists for immortality.

In the state of Maharashtra, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated with Narali Pournima - the coconut day festival. Here, fishermen pray to Varuna, the Hindu god of the sea - and offer blessings by throwing coconuts in the sea. Girls and women tie the rakhi around their brother’s wrist for their protection.

In some regions of North India, it is common to fly kites, and in Haryana, people combine the festival with Salano - where amulets against evil are tied around anyone’s wrist.

In some areas of Nepal, Raksha Bandhan is known as Janai Purnima and involves a ceremony which is observed by some Buddhists. The men change the thread they wear around their chests, and the girls and women tie the rakhi around their brother’s wrists.