Janai purnima | Rakshya Bandhan | Nepali Festival

Janai purnima | Rakshya Bandhan | Nepali Festival

Janai purnima is one of the festival of  Nepal that is widely celebrated by Hindus all over world0.  People especially Brahmin used to change janai in this day while every people used to have “quati”,  which consists of 7 different  beans.

In the same day,  people used to celebrate raksya bandan for the sacred  relationship among brother and sisters. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on brothers wrist while brothers offer gifts and parcels.

What is Janai?

Janai is a cotton string worn across the chest by Hindu male. This thread is only given to males during a long and  impressive religious ceremony called Bratabandhan. Almost all the religion has type of Bratabandhan, but known by different names. Bratabandhan is basically a formal process of accepting someone in the religion

The Janai initiates the boy into manhood and commands them to devotedly follow the religion and the path of truth. The Janai must be worn every day of their lives after they listen their mantra from the guru during the Bartabandha.

Janai is regarded as symbol of body, speech and mind, and when the knots are tied the person wearing it is supposed to gain complete control over each of them.

This cord is changed if it becomes untidy or dishonored due to those acts which are forbidden by religion.  However, Janai must be changed without fail on Rakhsya Bandhan Day.

Meaning of Janai Purnima ?

Janai is sacred thread, and Purnima is full moon day,  thus it is Janai festival in the full moon day of Shrawan month of Bikram Sambat calendar.

When is Janai Purnima ?

Janai Purnima is on Shrawan Purnima. This year Janai Purnima is on please look hamro patro because the date may vary every year to year.

What do we do in Janai Purnima ?

A day before Janai purnima the persons wearing janai should make themselves ‘clean’ by shaving or cutting hair and take a good bath. They undergo a partial fasting, taking only one meal of foods considered to be ‘clean’ – no meat, no onions or garlic. Before big event Hindus prefer to clean their body by keeping fasting. Satvic food is prescribed for all Hindu ritual and festival.

In the Purnima morning men usually go to rivers and ponds nearby, to take secret bath dipping himself thrice in the water. Men, then change their Janai. Break the old ones.

However in cities, the family priest (Pandit / Puret) comes to the residence. The entire family gathers around pandit as he reads the importance and stories of the from a holy book (patro) and performs a ceremony, which purifies the new thread, and places it about the men’s neck across the chest. In a payment the priest is given foodstuffs and monies. The money is called Dakshina and other stuff are called Daan in Sanskrit.

What is Rakshya Bandhan Doro ?

Rakshya means “to protect” and bandhan is “tie” or “bond”. Rakshya Bandhan is a bond or tie of protection. This thread is which is tied around the hand is called Doro. Some people even say Janai for Doro.

In Raksha Bandhan day male, female, children and kids regardless of status and caste get tied a doro (sacred colorful thread) around their wrist. Generally males get tied the thread around their right and the women around their left wrist.

They believe doro brings them good luck, when one believes, that always becomes true. People keep the doro tied in wrist till  on Laxmi Puja day in Deepawali. This thread is then taken out from wrist and tied on the tail of a cow in the cow worship day (Laxmi puja) in about October.

Hindu believe that they have to cross a river Baitarni after death to reach heaven. The cow will help him/her to cross the river Baitarni, by allowing the dead to cling to her tail, if he/she ties the doro to the tail of a cow on Laxmi Puja day.

What do we do in Rakshya Bandhan ?

In Raksha Bandhan Bandhan morning people crowd around the Pandit who ties the orange, yellow or red thread around devotees’ wrist chanting a quick prayer/raksha bandhan mantra which goes, ‘

Rakshya Bandhan Mantra

“Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaamavi badhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala”

“एन बद्धु बलि राजा दानबिन्द्रो महावल
तेन त्वं  बध नामी रक्षे मा चल मा चल”

Meaning:“I tie on you (the devotee) the raksha which was tied on Bali, the King of demons.
Therefore Oh Raksha! Do not ever fail to protect this devotee, do not ever fail.”

Rakhi Day

This festival is also marked by the tying of a rakhi,or holy thread, by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The market is full of different colors rakhis. This festival is equivalent to Bhai Tika in Tihar to some communities across Nepal. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and swears to look after her as she presents sweets to her brother. Rakhi provided they commit to a lifelong obligation to provide protection to the woman or girl.

Janai purnima as Kwati purnima or Gunhi Punhi

In Nepal special menu for Gunhi Punhi (Janai Purnima in Newari) is Kwati. This day is also called Kwati Punhi, where Kwati is a soup of different beans and Punhi means the full moon day. Newar people also put the sacred threads around the wrists which are to be taken off on the day of Laxmi Puja, another festival in Tihar.

In Janai Purnima Newar farmers offer different food items to frogs. Believing that worshiping the frog, who is considered an agent of the God of rainfall, by making offerings of different food items help to increase the production of crops.

Stories Behind Rakshya Bandhan/Janai Purnima

Historical occurrences and mentions: In Hindu Mythology there are many stories about the Rakshya Bandhan, some of them are as follows.

Santoshi Maa

Lord Ganesh had two sons, Shubh and Labh. On Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh’s sister visited and tied a rakhi on Ganesh’s wrist. Feeling deprived, the sons immediately began pressing Ganesh and his two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, for a sister. Finally, Ganesh agreed to fulfill the demand and Santoshi Ma (literally the Mother Goddess of Satisfaction) was created by divine flames that emerged from Riddhi and Siddhi.

Krishna and Draupadi

Another incident is from the epic Mahabharat and concerns Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She had once torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to stop the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that. Draupadi, inspite of being married to 5 great warriors and being a daughter of a powerful monarch, trusted and depended wholly on Krishna. Krishna repaid the debt of love during the “Cheer-Haran” (literally “clothing-robbing”) of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarastra when Pandavas lost her to the Kauravas in gambling. At that time, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree through divine intervention, so it could not be removed, to save her honor. This is how he honored his rakhi-vow towards Draupadi.

King Bali and Goddess Laxmi

According to a legend the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own home in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi wished to be with her lord back in her abode. She went to Bali disguised as a woman to seek refuge till her husband came back.

During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread to the King. Upon being asked, she revealed who she was and why she was there. The king was touched by her goodwill for his family and her purpose and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife.

Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja’s devotion to the Lord. It is said that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters in Shravan Purnima for the thread tying ceremony or the Raksha Bandhan.

Yama and Yamuna
According to another legend, Raksha Bandhan was a ritual followed by Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yamuna, (the river in northern India). Yamuna tied rakhi to Yama and bestowed immortality. Yama was so moved by the serenity of the occasion that he declared that whoever gets a rakhi tied from his sister and promised her protection, will become immortal.

This day is also important for the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. Newari celebrate it as Gunhi Punhi. Most of the Newari festivals have special foods to offer. Newari people celebrate the festivals according  to the foods they produce. All the friends and families gathered around together and offer servings of the foods provided in different season in and they have different festivals for different foods they have.

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