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Janai Purnima: The Sacred Thread Festival of Nepal

Janai Purnima festival thread.

Janai Purnima: A Sacred Thread Festival.

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Brother and sister celebrating Janai Purnima by tying a rakhi.

Janai Purnima, also referred as the Sacred Thread Festival, is deeply significant to many Hindu followers, particularly in Nepal and parts of India. This auspicious event falls on the full moon day of Shrawan (August), marking a time of renewal and spiritual cleansing. In this blog, we delve into the profound cultural and religious significance of Janai Purnima, exploring the rituals, beliefs, and communal activities that define this cherished festival.

What is Janai?

At the core of Janai Purnima is the ‘Janai,’ a sacred cotton thread that Hindu males wear across their chests. This thread is not just a simple piece of yarn; it symbolizes spiritual and moral responsibilities bestowed upon a male during the solemn Bratabandhan or Upanayana ceremony, which signals his transition from boyhood to manhood. The Janai is a constant reminder to adhere to the path of truth and righteousness, embodying the unity of body, speech, and mind. It is believed that the thread when tied with knots, grants the wearer control over these aspects of life.

The origins of Janai Purnima

The Legend of Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali

After Lord Vishnu’s victory over the demon king Bali, Goddess Lakshmi tied a rakhi on Bali to make him her brother and free Vishnu from his promise to stay at Bali’s palace. Bali honoured the rakhi and released Vishnu from his obligations.

The Story of Lord Indra

During a battle between gods and demons, Lord Indra was struggling against the demon king Bali. Sachi, Indra’s wife, received a holy cotton thread from Lord Vishnu, which she tied around Indra’s wrist. Empowered by the thread and Sachi’s prayers, Indra defeated Bali, emphasizing the thread’s protective power.

What do people do on Janai Purnima?

Preparing for the Sacred Day

The preparations for Janai Purnima begin a day before, as those wearing the Janai engage in a series of purification rituals. These include shaving, hair cutting, and bathing to ensure physical and spiritual cleanliness. Following this, participants observe a partial fast, eating only ‘clean’ foods—free from meat, onions, or garlic—adhering to Satvic principles that enhance purity and mental clarity.

Changing the Janai

On the morning of Janai Purnima, men traditionally go to nearby rivers or ponds, immersing themselves three times to cleanse their spirits. This act leads to the ceremonial changing of the Janai, where old threads are replaced with new ones, symbolizing the renewal of vows and spiritual commitments.

What is Rakshya Bandhan Doro (Thread)?

Coinciding with Janai Purnima is Rakshya Bandhan, a festival celebrating the protective bond symbolized by tying a ‘Doro’—a sacred colourful thread—around the wrist. Everyone in the community, regardless of gender, age, status, or caste, participates in this unifying ritual. Men typically wear the Doro on their right wrist, while women tie it on their left. This thread, believed to bring good luck, is worn on the wrist until Laxmi Puja during Deepawali. Afterwards, it is tied to a cow’s tail in a special ceremony, rooted in the belief that the cow will assist the deceased in crossing the river Baitarni to reach heaven.

Rakhi Day: Celebrating Sibling Bonds

A poignant aspect of Janai Purnima is its celebration of sibling bonds through tying a Rakhi. This ritual mirrors the affection and duty between brothers and sisters, with markets bustling with colourful rakhis. This tradition is akin to the Bhai Tika during Tihar, where brothers pledge to protect their sisters, who pray for their brothers’ well-being and prosperity.

Kwati Purnima: A Culinary Delight

The festival, also called Kwati Purnima, is named after ‘Kwati,’ a soup made from nine different beans. This delicious and nutritious dish is a festival staple, with families coming together to share this special meal. The communal feasting on Kwati soup symbolizes unity and the sharing of blessings among loved ones.

Ideal Places to Experience Janai Purnima

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

One of Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temples, Pashupatinath, is a hub of activity during Janai Purnima. Devotees from across the country and even India come here to perform rituals and change their Janai along the banks of the holy Bagmati River.

Gosainkunda, Langtang Region

For a more adventurous celebration, Gosainkunda offers a unique experience. This high-altitude lake, considered holy, attracts thousands of pilgrims during Janai Purnima. They trek through the stunning Langtang region to reach it.

Patan Durbar Square, Lalitpur

In the historic city of Patan, celebrations feature a cultural flair, showcasing local music, dances, and communal gatherings. It’s a perfect place for visitors to observe traditional festivities and local crafts.


Janai Purnima seamlessly blends spiritual, familial, and communal elements of Hindu culture into a vibrant celebration. This festival is a time for renewal, purification, and reaffirming faith and family responsibilities, deeply cherished by participants. Exploring this rich tradition reveals that Janai Purnima is more than a religious event—it actively celebrates life’s sacred bonds.

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