Happy Raksha Bandhan

What Raksha Bandhan is and What it Means to Me

by Namita Soni

It’s that time of the year again where mothers remind their daughters to start preparing trays lined with sacred threads and their sons to save up their money. Why? Because today, Sunday is the auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan. This occasion is usually celebrated on the last day of the Hindu Lunar Calendar which usually happens to be August. It has been observed in my family ever since I could remember. Every year, without fail, I will find myself tying rakhis for my brothers, giving them hugs and then waiting for my presents. I’ve seen my mother doing the same, even going to the extent of sending the rakhis overseas to her brothers whom she could not tie for in person.

As I grew older, the significance of Raksha Bandhan was explained to me. I understood that tying the thread signifies the bond between the siblings, the love and joy shared. In turn, the brother vows to protect his sister, regardless of whether she’s the older one or the younger one. So why celebrate? What’s the big deal? Well, the history of Raksha Bandhan goes back decades, with countless tales of how it came to be. One of the most special ones is about how Krishna had cut his finger and Draupadi had ripped a strip of cloth from her saree and tied it around his wrist to stanch the bleeding. Touched by the gesture, Lord Krishna vowed to protect her.

Eventually, over time, it became a very significant tradition and with all the tales and stories blending in together, Raksha Bandhan became a holy occasion where we tie rakhis around the wrists of our brothers to celebrate our relationship and togetherness with them. So, if we can celebrate Teacher’s Day, Mother’s Day and even Children’s Day, why not celebrate the bonds we have with our siblings? Thank them and remind them that you’ll always be by their side, no matter if distance or years were to separate them. That’s how I feel about it. It’s not even about what I get in return anymore, but the fact that after everything, I can always rely on my big brother to help me out and protect me if I can’t handle myself. So, here’s wishing Happy Raksha Bandhan to all my brothers and thanking them for all the years protecting me and spoiling me. Wouldn’t be here without my bhaiya ❤

Geeta Ashram Youth would like to wish one and all a Happy Raksha Bandhan 🙂

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.


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