Ever since the legends of Draupadi and Lord Krishna, Goddess Lakshmi and King Bali, RakhiPurnima or Raksha Bandhan is celebrated all across India. All to honour of the unconditional love between siblings.
When in Rakhsha Bandhan celebrated?
Every year in the month of Shravan, when the moon comes out in all its wonderful glory, brothers and sisters all around the country enthusiastically celebrate their bond. Usually falling in August, Raksha Bandhan is one of India’s most widely celebrated festivals – even amongst the diaspora.
How is Rakhsha Bandhan celebrated?
Ironically, the celebration remains uncharacteristically simple. It lacks the grandiose and extravagance of most Indian Festivals. Less is more, though. The focus of the celebration remains to cherish, respect, protect and love each other.
The tying of the rakhi, an intricately decorated symbolic thread, is the heart of Raksha Bandhan. The celebration includes exchanging gifts, a ritualistic aarti, and a prayer for the well being of the other. It also involves the application of the tilak on the brothers forehead. The tying of the rakhi, however, literally called the thread of protection. It perfectly captures the essence of this festival.
How do the traditional aspects meet modern connotations?
Traditionally, the sister ties the Rakhi onto the brother’s wrist and prays for his safety. And the brother vows to protect the sister and gives her a gift, or sometimes just money.
However, it is important to celebrate in a gender-neutral way. Especially amid a century where traditions are constantly being questioned and subverted. In today’s day and age, it isn’t just the brothers who can protect the sisters.
The deconstruction of the symbolism of tying the rakhi is common nowadays. Not just by the feminist discourse of today, but the plea to let go of any boundaries in the celebration of love. Why not have a sister vow to protect her brother? Does a brother perform a symbolic ritual for his brother? Or maybe a sister gift another sister with the promise of unconditional love?
The core of the festival
Essentially, Raksha Bandhan celebrates love; and brotherhood. A festival so powerful, it was even used as a means to prevent the 1905 Bengal partition. It was at the plea of our very own Bard, and Bengal’s Kobiguru, Rabindranath Tagore. Hundreds of Hindus and Muslims littered the streets of Kolkata, Dhaka, and Sylhet. They enthusiastically tied Rakhis on each other! It was a symbol of unity, brotherhood, and love that goes beyond boundaries.
The idea of going beyond familial bonds in the celebration of this festival is a fascinating one. Human beings are social animals, and our worlds revolve around love, in all forms.
More than anything, what we love is an excuse to symbolise and cherish that love in any way possible. Who doesn’t want to love and be loved? Besides, when certain bonds are not through blood, they can be even stronger. Because there’s something deeper holding them together; choice.
This August, when the moon reaches its full potential on the 3rd, celebrate this beautiful festival with your brothers and sisters. Whether familial or not, convey to them how much you cherish them.
Rituals and traditional ways of expressing love is always a good deal, but adding a personal touch into your expression goes a long way! A gift, a rakhi with your sister’s favourite colour, or a cute little handwritten note will enhance the gesture’s significance, and definitely put a smile on the faces of your loved ones.
Happy Raksha Bandhan!
– Riya Iyer