Celebrated by all sects of Hindus, Rakshabandhan, popularly known as Rakhi, falls on the last day of Shravan that is Purnima.
When the Maharanas ruled Mewar on this day first of all the Rajpurohit used to tie gold and silver Rakhi round the right wrist of the Maharana. Then so did the Sardars, Charans etc in the Raj Mahal. Rakshabandhan was a special day for Brahmins who would visit the homes of important persons, tie ‘Rakhis’ and get ‘Dakshina’. In the history of Mewar, is found the mention of sending ‘rakhi’ by Karnawati, wife of Maharana Sanga, to Humayun and of Chand Kunwar Bai, sister of Maharana Bhimsingh, making Col Tod her ‘rakhi-bandh’ bhai. Long before the festival the ‘bazars’ begin to buzz with buying activities. New ‘rakhi’ shops spring up from nowhere and the old ones are extended to offer a wide variety that makes the selection extremely difficult. Saris and dresses of multiple kinds are displayed to lure the buyers. Multi-hued bangles make an eye-catching scene. Gift shops add new items every season. Jewellers offer unique ornaments and sweet-sellers come out with new preparations. The ‘bazars’ get crowded as people from neighbouring area, especially rural, come here for shopping.
The making of ‘rakhis’ by Patwa families used to start 5-6 months in advance and the product was sent also to places outside Udaipur. In the beginning ‘rakhis’ were made only with “moti” and “salma” but later on keeping in view the lighting of customers fancy “rakhis” were also made. Gradually as workers did not take interest in this work, production in Udaipur decreased and those bought in bulk at cheaper rates from places like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata replaced those made locally. Patwas from Chittorgarh district who made ‘rakhis’ with mica also stopped coming to Udaipur.
The festival begins in some homes in Udaipur, a few days before Purnima. On the Sunday preceding it ladies feel elated tying a yellow thread called ‘phooli on their ‘Kangan’. They fast for the welfare of their brothers and break it by taking ‘bati’, “churma” etc. They sing songs asking the brothers to bring ‘chunar’ and ‘peela’ and visit them to invite them for the festival.
The day is full of joy and excitement. People get up early and dress up immaculately. Generally, brothers and sisters do not eat anything before the tying of ‘rakhis’. Sisters cover their head with “dupatta” or “sari”. Then smilingly they put ‘roli’,‘kesar’ and rice grains on their brother’s head, tie ‘rakhi’, offer a coconut and put sweets in the mouth. Brothers give them choicest gifts. The ritual symbolises the sister’s asking for the brother’s blessings and in turn getting an assurance for protection, thus strengthening the unique bond between the two. The sacred thread pulsating with sisterly love is rightly called ‘rakhi’.
Rakshabandhan also signifies that the strong must protect the weak from evil. It not only strengthens the bond between brothers and sisters but also transcends the confines of the family. When tied on the wrist of close friends and neighbours, it underscores the need for harmonious social life where every individual co-exists peacefully. Members of different communities commit themselves to protect each other. No doubt, festivals like Rakhi ease various societal strains, induce fellow feelings, open up channels of expression, give us an opportunity to rework on our role as human being and most importantly bring joy in our otherwise mundane lives.
For Brahmins, Shrawan Purnima is a special occasion when they go to waterbodies to worship their ancestors. On this day, they also replace their old Janeu, sacred thread, with new ones.
On this auspicious day, is also worshipped Shravan, who is considered to be an ideal son. As desired by his old parents, he took them on a long pilgrimage in a ‘Kavad’ hung on his shoulders.
A unique feature of Rakshabandhan in Udaipur is that it is celebrated for two days. The day after this festival is called Thandi Rakhi. The tribals of Udaipur call it Thandi Takdo.
During the reign of Maharana Bhupal Singh, was held a big fair on the Bansdara hill on which the famous Sajjangarh fort is located. Rural folk, especially from the neighbouring areas, participated in large numbers. They enjoyed singing, dancing and getting tattoos on their body the whole day long. However, with the passing away of the Maharana, the fair was discontinued.
Now Thandi Rakhi fair is held at Amrakh Mahadev near Chirva Valley. It has the distinction of being the second biggest’mela’ in Udaipur after Hariyali Amawas fair. The tribals from the neighbouring areas can be seen here enjoying in the fair. From here starts the traditional Gavri dance that continues for the next five weeks.
Due to socio-economic factors, quite a few changes are creeping in the way this festival is celabrated but not so the purpose of the sacred threads of “rakhi” to strengthen the bonds of various kinds.