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Rakhi: A bond between brother and sister

Raksha Bandhan is a day for brothers and sisters to reaffirm their bonds of affection. Literally translated, raksha means protection while bandhan means bond. Raksha Bandhan, therefore, signifies the bond of love out which comes a sense of security and protection. It falls on Purnima or full moon day in the month of Shravan according to Hindu Calendar. The festival is most common among the Hindus. However, it is also celebrated by the Sikhs, Jains and other communities. Regional celebrations may differ but Raksha Bandhan has become an integral part of those customs. The festival has been celebrated in the same way with the same traditions for centuries. In Indian tradition, the frangible thread of rakhi is considered even stronger than an iron chain as it strongly binds brothers and sisters in the circumference of mutual love and trust.

There are several historical evidences, which remind us about the significance of this festival and every time it emphasizes the same values which have been mingled along with the festival. Raksha Bandhan is mentioned in our epics as a festival of Gods. It is said that once Indra, the God of Heaven was about to go into battle and was feeling a little apprehensive. When his wife tied a sacred thread to his arm for his protection and assurance all his fears vanished and he was successful in all his endeavors.

On Raksha Bandhan, sister ties a rakhi, comprising sacred threads, on her brother’s wrist and performs arti . While tying the rakhi, girls chant

“Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala”

Means “I am tying a Rakhi on you, like the one on mighty demon king Bali. Be firm, O Rakhi, do not falter.” It is the duty of every brother to protect his sister. The sister prays for the well-being, success, and safety of her brother. The brother promises to safeguard his sister under all circumstances. It helps to build a healthy family relationship. Today, the festival goes much beyond real brothers and sisters to any two individuals who enjoy a deep relationship. So you are likely to see a woman tie a rakhi to her cousins, neighbours and close friends. The love and self actuation towards a novel cause between a brother and his sister is the theme of this great Rakhi festival.

Thus Raksha Bandhan, like all other Indian festivals, is a call to the Divine Self within. So let us pledge, on this day, to commit ourselves to dedicating our actions to our goal of self-betterment, harbouring finer emotions and developing the clarity to see the permanence in and through the transience of the world.

Raksha Bandhan is the day when people perform the grand pooja or the worship of the three eyed God, Lord Shiva. The sacred thread was apparently mentioned in several Hindu legends.

We have to place Raksha Bandhan in this larger context to realise that it is not just a simple function of tying a love band, applying a tilak on your brother’s forehead, offering him sweets and accepting his gifts. The rakhi is not a band of love; it is a knot of subordination. The finer points of Raksha Bandhan is to bring people together just like the true spirit of all other Indian festivals.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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