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Raksha Bandhan/Narali Purnima
Raksha Bandhan is based on an ancient legend. The legend goes that the gods were having a war with the demons. The god Indra got help from his wife. She tied a piece of silk around his wrist to ward off the evil demons. With the silk around his wrist, Indra beat back the devils and got back his home in the heavens. Today, Hindu girls with brothers give them special bracelets woven of silk (called rakhi) on this day.
The rakhi are made of red and gold thread. They are a symbol of the bond between brothers and sisters. When the sisters give their brothers the rakhis, they give them candy to eat as well. The brothers give their sisters little gifts in return.
On the full moon day of Shravan, after one or two months of heavy rains and strong winds, the sea becomes calm. On this day boats are allowed to launch into the sea again. But before doing so the sea is worshipped by throwing a coconut (“naral”) into the water. In this way Varun, the god of the water, is worshipped.
The Coconut as “Prasad”
The coconut is a fruit full of symbolism. It is known as “Shriphal”, or “divine fruit”. Within its hard shell it contains food and drink, the two essential elements God has placed in creation for man’s nourishment. The hard shell expresses God’s desire that man should enjoy the fruits of the earth through personal effort.
The coconut is the most common fruit used as an offering to God. The effort needed to break the shell represents the element of sacrifice. The kernel and the water are first offered to God and then shared with all those present, and also taken home to be shared with relatives and neighbours as “prasad”, or food blessed by God.