It’s here again. That time of the year when I go hunting for raakhis for my two brothers. They have to be special and that’s because the wrists they are going to adorn on Raksha Bandhan day belong to two very special persons. As I pack the raakhis in envelopes and get them ready to be couriered to two different parts of the world, I pause for a moment to rub my misty eyes. Somehow this day always brings back those childhood memories that seem so distant otherwise.
What is so special about this bond? Is it the fact that the three of us have sprung from the same set of parents? Or is it the uncomplicated simplicity of our childhood that binds us in this invisible bond? As the years have gone by and we have drifted apart in miles, outwardly it may seem that we have lost touch with each other. But when we pick up that phone and hear each others voices, or when the cell phone beeps with an sms that has just come in from them, my heart leaps with love. Every single time.
And I realize that this is one bond that can never die. Even though we have our own individual families and are most of the time immersed in own responsibilities at our work places, we never hesitate to be there for each other. All it takes sometimes is one phone call, one sms or one e-mail. And of course one raakhi every year to cement the bond.
I know to my brothers this raakhi is not just a decorative piece of thread that will adorn their wrist, but a reminder that they have a sister that needs their love, care and protection all the days of her life. And to me it?s a reminder that I have two shoulders to lean on, come rain or shine. It’s a day to thank God that he has given me these two cherished gifts that I wouldn’t exchange for all the wealth in the world.
The tradition behind the festival of Raksha Bandhan can be traced back to ancient times and has its roots in Hindu religion. It is celebrated every year during the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravana. This month is also called Sawan ka Mahina and corresponds with the month of July and August. This year Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated on August 9, 2006.
This day thousands of sisters tie raakhis on their brothers wrists. Those that don’t have brothers, tie them on their first cousins or close relatives who hold a brother’s place in their hearts. Age is not a factor here. You can be of any age to tie a raakhi on your brother.
The day starts with a pooja where the sister prays for her brothers well being, long life and safety. She then applies the traditional tilak on his forehead, performs the aarti and ties the raakhi on her brothers wrist. The brothers promise to protect their sisters from all the dangers and hardships in life. Usually a gift is given to the sister. It can be clothes, jewellery or money.
Like all festivals today, Raksha Bandhan also has a lot of commercial value attached to it. Shops selling raakhis compete with each other to come out with the best and most innovative raakhis that sell like hot cakes. Even famous jewellery shops advertise their special raakhis made out of gold and studded with precious stones. The return gifts that a brother can give his sister in exchange for the raakhi can also be purchased in these shops.
All these things somehow take away from the true spirit of the festival. Gone are the days when a brother could given chocolates or sweets to his sister and the sister would be satisfied with it. Perhaps it is high time we educated our own children about this aspect. It is the only way that the real significance of this beautiful Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan will live on.
Wishing joy and heavenly blessings to all brothers and sisters on this auspicious occasion!
Photographs: R. K. Bhat – Mangalore
Author: Vrinda Rao- Bangalore