Upakarma is one of the ancient Vedic rituals practiced to date by every Brahmin. It is done once a year, during Shravana Masa- which is usually in August or September. The main activity performed in an Upakarma is the changing of the Janivara or Holy Thread. This year the dates are as follows:
August 2nd 2012 – Rigveda Upakarma, Yajurveda Upakarma and Raksha Bandhan. Check your local panchanga to find out the exact date.
Did you know that Upakarma means “Beginning” in Sanskrit.
Now that we have all the details for the Upakarma, how about Raksha Bhandan? Raksha” means protection, “bandhan” means bound or binding. During this festival brothers and sisters show that they care for each other; include your cousins also. A sister will tie the rakhi, which is made of thread around her brother’s right wrist, usually with flowers attached to it. In return, her brother will give sweets, or money to show that they will love and protect them.
As with any other festival, there are many legends for this festival as well.
1. In ancient times a woman tied a ‘rakshaa’ on her husband’s wrist to protect him from evil. Later, she tied a ‘rakshaa’ on her brother’s right wrist, to protect him from evil influence and those factors which may taint his character, and to strengthen the bond of sibling love between them.
2. Vishnu helped the wife of Indra, to aid her husband in his battle against the demon Bali. Bali had driven Indra out of heaven. Vishnu gave Indra’s wife a silk thread to put on Indra’s wrist as a lucky charm. It enabled him to defeat Bali and regain his kingdom.
3. During the battle of Mahabharat,Queen Kunti tied a raksha on her grandson Abhimanyu to protect him in battle.
P.S: Those of you residing in the Washington DC area, Sri Siva Vishnu Temple is celebrating the ceremony in the morning. You can get all the details from the SSVT site and check the August newsletter for the timings to perform the same.