Saturdays are dedicated to the telling of tales; of the inspirational biographies of saints and sages, of the parables and puranas, of festivals, feasts and feats which all help to focus and inspire the roaming soul.
The full moon of August (श्रावण /shraavana in Hindu calendar) marks the ancient festival of rakshaa bhandan ('protection bonds'). This is one of a variety of festivals utilised for strengthening family ties - in this case brother and sister - and maintaining societal etiquette. The basis of the festival is that the sister prepares in advance some sweets and a blessed thread. On the full moon (purnima) day, she will tie the thread to her brother's wrist, apply tilak/tikka (the read brow mark), wish him health and strength and feeds him a sweet. He in turn promises he will protect her, he may feed her also and hugs will be shared.
The celebration may be extended to cousins, or indeed close male friends with whom a bond exists but which is platonic in nature. The festival is principally a Hindu one, but is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains; these days, it has become quite widespread as a bond of affection in general and crosses all cultural boundaries. The streets for some two weeks prior to the festival will come alive with stalls selling the bhandas and they may cost a simple few rupees to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of rupees (gold and silver).
As with almost all Indian festivals, it has its origins in the mists of time; some will tell you it was begun when Yama's sister Yamuna needed reassurance; or that Sri Ganesha's two sons felt they were lacking for not having a sister and having provided them with one, they vowed to keep her safe always; or that Indra's wife, Indrani, was concerned for his welfare during an impending battle and prepared a talisman which she tied to his wrist...it worked...(for more read here).
This is a warm and meaningful celebration of bonds; there is a risk however, as with so many other festivals world wide, that the genuine purpose is lost in the 'trendy' and the material aspects which inevitably arise.
This year, August 10th is rakshaa bandhan.
Some readers will be thinking 'this is like friendship bracelet'; TRUE! The friendship bracelet, though, is attributed to support for the native peoples of Central America.