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Rakhi: The thread of love

Raksha Bandhan is one of the festivals celebrated in India during the month of Shravan. It is usually celebrated in the month of August every year. It is a simple ceremony which has a very deep emphasis. The ritual is simple and involves a sister tying a Rakhi on the hands of a brother to which the brother reciprocates by promising to protect her throughout her life. The beauty lies in the beautiful bond of the brother sister relationship, which is strengthened on this occasion.

A rakhi can be simple or decorative and colourful. It involves inter-weaving of threads and adding something colourful to it. It can be hand-made or purchased. Days before the occasion, Rakhis are sold on bulk basis in shops or on roadsides. Sisters flock around the cart of street vendors or in shops to purchase rakhis. The day is marked by a holiday in India. The ritual does not involve just tying a rakhi. But this act is followed by prayer, aarti, promise (by the brother) and good food. Once the sister ties the rakhi, she says a prayer for his well being. Sometimes she even performs an aarti by revolving a plate of diyas or candles around her brother’s face. Then the sister applies a tilak on her brother’s forehead and he in turn, promises to protect her for an entire lifetime come what may. Then the brother has chunks of sweets from his sister’s hand. The brother in turn gifts something to his sister.

History bears testimony of the significance of rakhi. Bahadur Shah had invaded Chittor. To protect her kingdom, Rani Karnavati sent a rakhi to king Humayun. Overwhelmed, Humayun sent his troops to protect Chittor and Rani Karnavati. However, his troops reached there too late and Karnavati and other women had also immolated themselves to protect dishonor in the hands of the enemy. His troops still freed Chittor and made Rani Karnavati’s son the king.

Thus Rakhi is a symbol of brotherly or sisterly love. The purity in the relationship transcends boundaries and breaks all kinds of barriers. It is not important that rakhis are tied only on the hands of blood relations. Rakhis are tied by sister who has accepted an individual to be her brother. May this festival bring joy on the lips of all brothers and sisters and may their bond strengthen with every occasion of rakhi.

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