Happy Raksha Bandhan!

Raksha Bandhan: A yearly Hindu tradition

By Trived Soni

I am the only son in my family. I grew up with two sisters. Together we were the three musketeers, going through thick and thin. Most of the time we would enjoy each others company. Occasionally, we prefer keeping to ourselves, as we have different interests or even due to small arguments. As we grow older, we find our own individual paths and are busy chasing our personal dreams. We get separated and although sometimes I am not with them physically, I always know that my sisters have my back, and I have theirs. Likewise, for them.

In a typical Hindu family, once every year, brothers and sisters will be brought together to celebrate this festival. The sister would tie a knot around the brother’s wrist while wishing good health, happiness and goodwill. In return, the brother would promise to take good care and look out for them in any circumstance. After which, the sister would feed a sweet to her brother and he would give her a small monetary gift of appreciation. Growing up, I saw it nothing more than a tradition to follow annually and was naïve to the significance of Raksha Bandhan.

However, as time goes by and one begins to mature, curiosity and questions arise as to why things are done in such a way. Raksha Bandan in its name simply means the ‘bond of protection. It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Sravana (Shravan Purnima). On this auspicious day, the whole family would get together to celebrate the sacred relation of a brother and a sister. Today, this tradition has gone beyond the siblings’ relationship, and is undertaken between neighbours, close friends, leaders and even army soldiers. This is to promote the feeling of unity and a commitment to all members of society to protect each other and encourage a harmonious social life.

The knot tied is referred to as a ‘Rakhi’ which significance can be derived from many ancient stories. The most common comes from the well-known Sanskrit epic from India, Mahabaratha. According to the epic, one morning, when Lord Krishna was flying a kite, he cut his finger by accident. Draupadi, who was nearby, saw him bleeding profusely and ran to him. She then tore a piece from her sari and tied it around his finger. Lord Krishna was so touched that in return he promised to protect her from all evil, forever. And he did protect her all along, especially during her ‘cheerharan’ by the Kauravas.

The festival of Raksha Bandhan is well thought of and is the only ceremony that celebrates the essence of the brother-sister relationship. In this day and age, everyone is busy with their personal affairs, studies and work and tend to brush of these small occasions or even a chance to spend some time together as a family. With the knowledge I have shared above, I hope brothers and sisters can make time to appreciate this strong life-long bond between them when tying the knot on this special day.

On behalf of the Geeta Ashram Youth, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Raksha Bandhan!

References :
1. http://www.raksha-bandhan.com/meaning-significance-of-raksha-bandhan.html
2. http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/raksha-bandhan-2017-know-the-importance-history-and-significance-of-raksha-bandhan-festival-in-india-4782720/
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/raksha.shtml
4. https://www.amritapuri.org/3539/rakshabandan.aum
5. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/events/when-is-raksha-bandhan-2017-significance-and-importance-of-the-day/articleshow/59898862.cms
6. Trived’s deep thoughts

Happy Raksha Bandhan

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               Rakhi at our home 🙂

Raksha Bandhan

by Mayuri Soni

Ever since I was a child, every time August came around, I knew it meant two things for sure. It meant, we would be celebrating our National Independence Day and of course Raksha Bandhan.

So what is Raksha Bandhan? In Sanskrit, it translates to “the tie or knot of protection”. It is an ancient practice where the sister ties a Rakhi for her brother, a way of expressing her love and well wishes for her brothers being. The brother then makes a promise to always protect her. In many homes, including ours, Rakhi is not only for siblings by birth, but for cousins and friends who share a close brother/sisterly bond.

On that day

The sisters usually prepare the puja thali, which consists of moli, tilak, Rakhi threads, rice grains, saffron, incense sticks, diyas and sweets. The sister then performs the ‘aarti’ and ties the Rakhi on her brothers’ wrist. After that she puts the tilak on her brothers forehead and offers some sweets.

In return, her brothers promise to do all he can to protect her. He also presents a token of his affection as a Rakhi gift.

Myths and Origins

There are many stories on why we celebrate Raksha Bandhan. The following are just a few;

Once, Lord Indra stood almost vanquished in a long-drawn battle against the demons. Lord Indra’s wife Sachi consulted Bhagavan Vishnu, who gave her a sacred cotton thread. Sachi then tied the holy thread around Indra’s wrist, blessed with her prayers for his well being and success. Lord Indra then successfully defeated the evil and recovered Amaravati.

Another story tells us about how when Bhagavan Krishna cuts his finger while beheading Shishupal, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Lord Krishna, then said that with this loving act, she wrapped him in debt and would repay each “thread”. In many occasions, when Draupadi was in danger, she would pray to Bhagavan Krishna for help and He always came to protect her.

Thus, Raksha Bhandhan symbolizes all aspects of protection of the good from evil forces. Even in the great epic Mahabharata, we find Krishna advising Yudhishtthir to tie the puissant Rakhi to guard himself against impending evils.

Rakhi in History

Raksha Bandhan is an ancient tradition, hence it is not surprising that many history books speak about this auspicious celebration.

For instance, Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, used the concepts of Raksha Bandhan and Rakhi, to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims during India’s colonial era. He arranged to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, in hopes that this would bring them together to protest the British empire.

Even much before that, according to one legendary narrative, when Alexander The Great invaded India in 326 BCE, Roshanak, his wife sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, the king of Kaikeya Kingdom, gave full respect to the rakhi. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.

Rakhi to me

When I was younger, I remember thinking this was similar to a friendship bracelet for my brothers. I did not, at that age, fully appreciate what it symbolizes. I just enjoyed the festivities of it, sweets and all.

Now that I am older, and away from home, Rakhi means so much more. It means I am saying, and he is saying, you are in my thoughts and I pray for the best for you. We are still there for each other even though we can’t see each other.

I guess as children, we play and do not think that in the distant future, we may not see each other as often. I think that is why Raksha Bandhan is so much more meaningful to me now. Although we are far apart, I know that my brothers will always have my back 😉

Happy Raksha Bandhan!

Happy Raksha Bandhan!

There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.

– Terri Guillemets

Historically, Raksha Bandhan is an ancient concept where queens used to send rakhis to their neighbourhood brothers as a sign of love and token of brotherhood. However, with most traditions, the entire concept of it has changed over time. Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit literally means “the tie or knot of protection“. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. The sister performs a Rakhi ceremony, then prays to express her love and her wish for the well being of her brother; in return, the brother ritually pledges to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances. The festival is also an occasion to celebrate brother-sister like family ties between cousins or distant family members, sometimes between biologically unrelated men and women.

Rakhi

Having my Rakhi tied!

As with most Hindu festivals, there are a number of rituals that are usually carried out during this auspicious day. The sisters will usually shop for rakhis or even make their own out of colourful thread sometimes adorned with decorations or amulets. Meanwhile, the brothers will buy gifts for their sisters. On the day itself, the sisters will tie the rakhis on their brother’s wrist, followed by a simple prayer for the brother’s prosperity, good health and happiness and an aarti. Then, the sisters will feed their brothers sweets with their hands. In return, the brothers will then gift their sisters with the aforementioned gifts, and of course hugs are given and received left, right and center.

Personally, having grown up with three elder sisters and a number of cousins whom I regard as my sisters, I’ve always looked forward to this day. It’s a simple reminder to me that I am appreciated and I truly feel it does strengthen the bond between a brother and a sister. Only downside I could possibly think of is that my wallet is significantly lighter at the end of the day! 😉

 The Geeta Ashram Youth would like to wish A very Happy Raksha Bandhan to one and all!

by Vithal Narula