Sisters tied colourful rakhis on the wrists of their brothers, prayed for their long life, and got some beautiful gifts and money in return as the festival of Raksha Bandhan, marking the bond of love between siblings, was celebrated on Wednesday.
Celebrated on the full moon of the Hindu month of Shravana, Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi was observed with much gaiety across the country.
As a part of the ritual, sisters fast in the morning until they tie the Rakhi on their brother's wrists. They prepare a 'thali' containing an earthen or metal lamp, rakhi, vermilion, saffron, rice grains, sweets and fruits.
The sister performs an 'aarti' of the brother, ties the rakhi, places a 'tika' on his forehead and offers him sweets. In return, brothers shower their sisters with gifts and vow to protect them throughout their lives.
Markets have been flooded with a variety of rakhis ranging from colourful silken threads to those made of silver, gold and decorated with diamonds. For children, there is a vast variety of rakhis from Harry Potter and Superman images to large sponge rakhis.
"I bought a big bunny rakhi for my brother and he liked it very much. I also gifted him a T-shirt and prayed for his long life. He gave me a pair of gold earrings and it's amazing," said Rakhsa Singh, a Class 9 student.
Many people have decided to celebrate the festival in the evening for according to priests it is the most auspicious time for tying rakhi.
"The auspicious time for rakhi begins after 5 pm and if possible brothers and sisters should perform the ceremony in the evening. But there is no harm in tying rakhi before this," said Ravinder Nagar, head priest of the Laxmi Narayan Temple in New Delhi.
The Capital saw a huge rush of people travelling to meet their brothers and sisters. Many women and men in their best clothes were seen doing last minute shopping, buying rakhis and sweets for the celebration.
"I could not shop for rakhi as I was out of town for some office work and returned on Tuesday. So I am shopping now and going to my brother's house to tie the rakhi," said Neeti Gambhir, a software engineer.
To send gifts online, several portals are offering mega deals. For instance, rakhis can be delivered at short notice. The mailer includes a designer rakhi and a packet containing saffron leaves, rice grains, a cardamom and crystal sugar.
The Delhi government has announced free ride in DTC buses for women on the occasion so that they can visit their brothers' homes.
"It is a great scheme. I took a DTC bus to visit my brother and I didn't have to ask my husband for the bus fare," said Niharika, a homemaker.