efe-epaNew Delhi

Millions of bracelets changed hands on Monday in India during the Hindu festival of Rakhi.

Women tied bracelets adorned with colored stones, beads and pearls on the wrists of their brothers, brothers-in-law and male cousins in exchange for a promise of protection for eternity.

The origin of the festival, also known as Raksha Bandhan (the tie or knot of protection), goes back to the ancient Hindu text, the Mahabharata. It narrates how during a ceremony, the God Krishna cut his finger and Draupadi, the wife of five Hindu kings, tore off part of her silk sari and tied it on his finger to stop the bleeding.

Moved by her compassion, Krishna promised to protect her for ever.

Rita Syall, 45, met her five siblings at the family home in northern Delhi on Monday morning to tie rakhi to them, give them sweets and "pray to God for their long life," she told EFE.

In exchange, her brothers gave her gifts and money.

"It is a festival of love and bond between brothers and sisters (...) This festival is important because brothers promise to take care of their sisters," Syall said.

On Monday, the streets were full of men with a rakhi tied on their wrists.

"May Raksha Bandhan, symbolizing the virtues of love, affection & mutual trust, bring happiness & prosperity to all," Indian President Ram Nath Kovind wrote on his official Twitter account.

The preparation for the festival began several weeks ago, with thousands of stalls and shops stocking all kinds of bracelets and gifts to be exchanged.

On Sunday, hundreds of people flocked to the Dilli Haat artisan market in the capital, despite monsoon downpours, for last-minute purchases for the festival. Girls went to get delicate henna designs put on their hands for the occasion.