Sacred Thread Wearing Day

The festival of sacred thread is called Janai Purnima, Janai meaning ‘sacred thread’. Also known as Rakshya Bandhan, on this day, Hindus tie a sacred thread on their wrist of the right hand and the male members, who have performed their Bratabandha, change their Janai (yellow cotton string worn across their chest), the sacred thread. It falls on a full moon night during the Nepali month of Shrawan (July-August). Also, a big fair takes place at Khumbeshwor, Lalitpur on this day.

It is called Gunhi Punhi by the Newars of the Kathmandu valley, the day when a soup of different beans is specially prepared. The grains are collectively known as Kwati and it is also referred to as Kwati Purnima in Nepali.

All the thread wearing males of the Brahmin and Chhettri community must change their

Janai on this day. They also visit the Khumbeshwor Mahadev for worship and to tie a doro (sacred thread) around their wrists. All the members, despite their age or sex can wear a doro, however, a Janai is worn only by the male members who have done their Bratabandha. On the preceeding day, the thread wearing males only eat one meal keeping a partial fast and avoide garlic, onion and meat in their food in ordr to remain ‘clean’. Some also shave their head and beard and take bath, however, the trend of shaving hair has died down these days. In the morning, after they take bath, a family priest comes to the house and performs a ceremony of changing his jajaman’s (client) Janai and also ties a doro in their right wrist.

The doro or dora is also called Rakhsya Bandhan which means ‘bond of protection’, rakshya meaning ‘protection’ and bandhan meaning ‘bond’. It is also believed that this thread should be removed only during Laxmi Puja to tie to the tail of a cow. So, that when the death comes to the wearer of the sacred thread, the cow helps her/him cross the river Baitarni, by allowing the dead to cling to her tail.

On this day, sisters tie Rakhi around their brother’s wrist and worship her brother. The Rakhi symbolizes the brother’s promise to protect his sister against all odds. The day has significant value among the Marwari and Madhesi community that are more influenced by the India culture. The shops display with varieties of Rakhi weeks before the festival and also the special mixed grain Kwati is cooked on this occasion. In Terai, eating meat is forbidden while the people of all communities in Kathmandu prepare Kwati soup mixed with meat on this day.