Janai Purnima, also known as Rakshya Bandhan, is a Hindu festival celebrated all over Nepal on the full moon day in the month of Shrawan. It is also popularly known as ‘Gunhu Punhi’ among the Newar community. Buddhists observe this day in commemoration of Lord Gautama Buddha’s victory over the evil power of lust.
Janai means the sacred thread. Every year on the Janai Purnima day, Brahmins take a holy bath and offer ablution to the gods before changing their Janai. Other Hindus receive the ‘Rakshya Bandhan’ thread, which is tied around their wrists by Brahmin priests, as a protection from evil. It is believed that if this thread is taken off on Laxmi Puja day which falls three months later, and tied to the tail of a cow, it would ensure a smooth journey to heaven after one’s death.
In the Terai region, girls tie a thread bracelet known as ‘Rakhi’ around their brothers’ wrists, wishing them a long life and prosperity, and also reminding them of their protective duties towards their sisters.
Devotees take holy dips in ponds and lakes and throng religious sites in different parts of the country to celebrate the festival. Religious fairs are held at various temples from early morning at several places including the Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath temples in Kathmandu and the Kumbheshwor temple in Lalitpur.
The day is also observed as ‘Kwanti Purnima’. Kwanti, a highly nutritious soup prepared from nine different types of beans, is a special delicacy enjoyed on this day.