This year, the festival of Rakhi Purnima is on 5th August. Purnima means Full-moon day and this festival is celebrated every year on the Full-moon day of the Telugu month - Shravana Masam. It is basically a festival of North India but it is celebrated in Telangana area of Andhra Pradesh for over two centuries with the same devotion and enthusiasm. This was initially due to the influence of the culture and traditions from the adjoining districts of Maharashtra which were for long a part of Hyderabad State under the rule of Nizam. In recent times the festival has become popular in Andhra area and other Southern States mostly due to the significance of Rakhi spread through sentimental scenes in movies and commercializing the festival through advertisements for the sale of Rakhies, Chocolates, Sweets, Greeting Cards and other associated gifts. As a result this festival is being celebrated more elaborately today, all over the country.
Rakhi is a sacred thread embraced with a sister's love and affection for her brother. On the day of Rakhi Purnima, sisters tie Rakhi on the right-hand wrists of their brothers and express their love to them and offer sweets. After receiving the Rakhi from a sister, a brother sincerely takes the responsibility of protecting his sister. In return, brothers also gift money, dresses, Saris and any other useful items to sisters. Rakhies come in very colorful and multitude variations starting from simple colored thread wrist-bands to elaborate designs containing images of Gods, holy signs and flowers. They are also made of Silver and Gold. In Indian tradition, the Rakhi strongly binds a brother and a sister in mutual love and trust.
As a small boy I used to love displaying the Rakhis on my hand tied from wrist to almost the elbow. As I have only one sister, I used to get one Rakhi from her but my aunts and their children used to send Rakhies by post and this contributed to my show-off. Rakhi day is a holiday so I and similarly many other students used to go to the school the next day wearing Rakhies. While at college, I and my brother used to get Rakhies from sister and relatives by post. Since 1981, I and my elder brother Dr. Lakshminarsu are staying together in the same house in Secunderabad, while my sister stays 6 Kms. away in Hyderabad. So every year my sister comes to us on Rakhi day without fail. And in the case of my wife, her brother Dubbaka Mohan stays few blocks away from our house so it is very convenient for her also to go there and tie the Rakhi.
On this day my brother and I put on a new Janjam – a sacred bunch of threads that we wear over the left shoulder and across the waist. For this reason this day is sometimes referred to as Janjala Purnima.
For brothers who cannot come home to sisters or sisters who cannot visit their brothers on this day, there are many modern alternate methods. Sisters send Rakhies and sweets or chocolates by courier service or order such deliveries through several Internet Websites. And if this is not possible there is a simpler alternative of sending e-greetings. But in whichever way this festival of siblings is celebrated it only reinforces the bonds within the family and their responsibility towards one another to love and care for each other under all circumstances and at all times.