A number of rakhis tied on a man’s wrist during a celebration of the Raksha Bandhan festival in Mauritius
A girl tying a rakhi on to her brother’s wrist

Borrowed from Hindi राखी (rākhī, a rakhi), from Sanskrit रक्षिका (rakṣikā, a rakhi), from रक्षा (rakṣā, care, guarding, preservation, protection; a rakhi),[1] from Proto-Indo-European *h₂lek- (to protect).



rakhi (plural rakhis)

  1. (chiefly South Asia) An ornamental cotton wristband tied by a girl or woman on to the wrist of her brother, or of one who takes on the responsibilities of a brother, particularly during the Raksha Bandhan festival.
    • 1829, James Tod, chapter IX, in Annals and Antiquities of Rajast’han, or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India, volume I, London: Published by Smith, Elder, and Co., []; and Calkin and Budd, [], OCLC 1033869805, page 312:
      When her Amazonian sister the Rahtore queen was slain, the mother of the infant prince took a surer method to shield him in demanding the fulfilment of the pledge given by Hemayoon when she sent the Rakhi to that monarch. ‘The festival of the bracelet (Rakhi)’ is in spring, and whatever its origin, it is one of the few when an intercourse of gallantry of the most delicate nature is established between the fair sex and the cavaliers of Rajast’han. [] The Rajpoot dame bestows with the Rakhi the title of adopted brother; and while its acceptance secures to her all the protection of a ‘cavaliere servente,’ scandal itself never suggests any other tie to his devotion.
    • 1839, James Tod, “Memoir of the Author”, in Travels in Western India, [], London: W[illia]m H[oughton] Allen and Co., [], OCLC 458323441, page xli:
      Although the festival of the Rakhi had not arrived, the mother of the young prince sent Captain Tod, by the hands of the family priest, the bracelet of adoption as her brother, which made his young ward thenceforth his nephew. He had received the rakhi from, and become the "bracelet-bound brother" of, two other queens, the Ranís of Oodeypore and Kotah, besides the maiden sister of the Rana, and many ladies of chiefs of rank: these, he observes, were all the treasures he brought away.
    • 1910, Bipin Chandra Pal, “National Education”, in The Spirit of Indian Nationalism, London: Published by the Hind Nationalist Agency, [], OCLC 753132620, page 73:
      On the 16th of October, 1905, immense numbers of people in the two divisions of the partitioned Province abstain from lighting their kitchen fire, go about bare-footed, perform ceremonial baths in rivers or sacred tanks, tie in one another's wrist the sacred rakhi, a piece of silk or cotton thread, as a symbol of fraternal and national unity.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, “The Prime Minister Fights, and Keeps His Head. Sad Sons Assuage the Spirits of Their Dead.”, in A Suitable Boy, New Delhi: Viking Books, →ISBN; republished New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2005, →ISBN, section 14.10, page 980:
      Veena went in the morning to Prem Nivas to tie a rakhi around Pran's wrist. She chose a simple rakhi, a small silver flower of tinsel on a red thread. She fed him a laddu and blessed him, and received in exchange his promise of protection, five rupees, and a hug.
    • 1993, Raghuvir Sinha, “Role Playing and Role Taking in the Universal Hindu Family”, in Dynamics of Change in the Modern Hindu Family, New Delhi: Ashok Kumar Mittal, Concept Publishing Company, →ISBN, page 112:
      The tradition of Rakhi (tieing of a cord) to brother at an annual festival and a cotton thread on the second day of Holi and Diwali as a token of her deep feelings for her brother have cemented the bond between brother and sister very much during the last many centuries of Indian tradition. The brother accepts the Rakhi and Dora with a genuine feeling of filial love and affection for his sister and as a token of great affection and bond of fraternity for him.
    • 2008, Colleen M. Yim, “Religious Knowledge Transmission through Festivals and Votive Rites”, in Veiled Gurus: A Hindu Mother’s Experiential Involvement in Religious Knowledge Transmission, Lanham, Md.; Plymouth, Devon: University Press of America, →ISBN, page 81:
      It was the sister's responsibility to prepare a thaali that held the items for the typing of the rakhi. On the thaalis were sandalwood paste or roli (red paste) for the tilak, kalwa (which in this case were the rakhis), sweets, a coconut and grains of rice. The ceremony was quite simple, as first the sister tied a rakhi on her brother, fed him a sweet, and then gave him a coconut. The brother in turn gave his sister a gift of money. The sisters tied a rakhi on all of their brothers as well as their cousin brothers.
    • 2011, Altaf Fatima, “Do You Suppose It’s the East Wind?”, in Reza Aslan, editor, Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Words without Borders Anthology), New York, N.Y.; London: W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN, page 536:
      The whole day long you kept showing up behind the door, hurling taunt after taunt at me for not tying a rakhi on you, until Mother finally relented. She sent for a few rakhis from the bazaar and gave them to me. The next time you sneaked behind the door, I grabbed your hand and tied the whole lot on your wrist. Seeing not one, not even two, but three separate rakhis on your wrist, you became overjoyed and sprinted off, reappearing only in the evening, []



  1. ^ Monier Williams (1872), “Rakshā”, in A Sanskṛit–English Dictionary: [], Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 3592375, page 825, column 1:
    [T]he act of protecting or guarding, protection, care, preservation, security; [] ([raksh]ā or [raksh]ī), f[emale], a piece of thread or silk bound round the wrist on particular occasions (especially on the full moon of Śrāvaṇa, either as an amulet or preservative against misfortune, or as a symbol of mutual dependence, or as a mark of respect; among the Rājputs it is sometimes sent by a lady of rank or family to a person of influence whose protection she is desirous of securing and whom she thus adopts, as it were, as a male relative or brother).

Further readingEdit


Mauritian CreoleEdit


From Hindi राखी (rākhī)




  1. An ornamental wristband given by a young woman to a brother
  2. Raksha Bandhan; religious ceremony

Alternative formsEdit