Rakhi - An Expressed Thread Of Blood, An Evinced String Of Kinship

16 April 2016

The festival of Rakhi is a pious and popular Hindu celebration. A revered carousal among Hindus in India as well as among Hindus spread across the globe, Hindus term this fete as ‘Raksha Bandhan’. The term ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is a Sanskrit one expressing the meaning as the ‘Nexus of Protection’ (Raksha=Protection and Bandhan=Nexus). This veneration is a chaste celebration of the innate love between a brother and a sister. On this virtuous occasion a sister ties a chromatic string of cotton around the wrist of her brother as a beatific symbol of the bond between the two of them and thus is evinced the amore and commitment which is inherent in the bond between them. The observance of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ is a cardinal endeavor to meliorate the relation between a brother and a sister and to make each of them realizes individual duty towards one another. As after receiving the deific Rakhi, a brother is ceremoniously sworn to defend and endorse his sister at all junctures of her life, so while knotting the pure cord of Rakhi around the wrist of her brother, the sister is also avowed by solemnity to pray every time for an opulent and felicitous life of her brother. The fundamentality of the ceremony of Rakhi lies in the certitude that compliance to this observance can be done by a pair of cousin brother and sister also and by any duo of man-woman who are mentally tied up by the camaraderie of brother and sister and not biologically. Exalted as ‘Raksha Bandhan’ and also as ‘Rakhi Purnima’, this moral gala is a cherished one in India and in the Hindu State of Nepal. Non-Residential Indians and Non-Residential Nepalis staying at foreign lands also laud this sacred commemoration with the same exuberant fervor like those in the homeland.

The expressed emphasis of the observance of Rakhi remains in the context that acknowledgement of this cultus can be found in ancient Hindu religious scriptures and mythological tales. The most noteworthy mythological tale encompassing the nascence of the veneration of Rakhi is that of the Hindu God of Death ‘Yama’ and His sister ‘Yamuna’---the Goddess of river Yamuna. The theistic narrative lays down that after a marked hiatus of 12 years when God ‘Yama’ visited Goddess ‘Yamuna’, She was profusely elated to see her brother and cooked a plethora of delicacies for ‘Yama’. She also tied a celestial yellow fabric band around the wrist of the Lord wishing for his prosperity. God ‘Yama’ was so jubilant at His sister’s endeavor that He urged the Goddess to ask for a present or blessing. The Goddess, in return, only asked for Her brother’s promise to come and visit Her more often. Lord ‘Yama’ was so stirred by his sister’s nature, that He not only gave Her, His words to come to Her frequently, but also sanctified Her with the benediction of immortality. In accordance with this anecdote, lies the Hindu belief that a brother getting his wrist garnished by the holy thread of ‘Rakhi’ and truly vowing to safeguard his sister for times to come, will be bestowed with the boon of immortality by God ‘Yama’. The consecrated Hindu clerical scripture of ‘Vishnu Purana’ also encircles a divine saga of the rite of Rakhi. The holy book claims that when God ‘Vishnu’ assented to live in the kingdom of his prime devotee Bali, the demon king, by leaving his own home ‘Vaikuntha’ (The Paradise)---the God’s wife Goddess ‘Laxmi’ became very pensive and on the day of ‘Shravan Purnima’ (A Day of Full Moon in the month of August) visited the king in the guise of a normal woman and knotted the deistic orange cotton strip of Rakhi around the wrist of the king. Emotionally affected by this gesture of a common woman, the king asked her to wish for a present from the king. The Goddess then showcased her true identity and desired for the return of God ‘Vishnu’ to ‘Vaikuntha’. Accepting with wholesome heartiness as his Sister, the king acceded to the Goddess’s wish and arranged for the Lord’s departure to ‘Vaikuntha’. In relation to this yarn, started the heartening Hindu tradition of inviting one’s sister to one’s house on the day of ‘Shravan Purnima’ for observing together the conviviality of Rakhi.

The momentousness of the bout of Rakhi is also hemmed in the definite deference to the various customs intensifying this beatific spell. On the heyday of Rakhi, falling essentially on the day of the full moon night in the month of August, sisters and brothers, both clad in traditional Indian wear of Sari or Salwar Kameez and Kurta Pyajama, come together at one place in the ubiety of grandparents and parents. They sit facing each other, and the sister, holding in her hand a silver or metal ‘Thali’ or plate dressed with sweets, an enlightened candle or lamp and the devout string of Rakhi, devotionally rotates the ‘Thali’ or plate for three times around the face of her brother---thus performing the spiritual protocol of ‘Arati’. After this, she garnishes her brother’s forehead with a colorful mark of powder and rice known as ‘Tilak’ and following this she ties the sanctified cord of ‘Rakhi’ around his pulse and chants the sanctified hymns of “I tie you the rakhi that was tied to king Bali, the king of Demons, O Rakhi I pray that you never falter in protecting your devotee”. The dulcet finale to this commemoration happens by the sister feeding, by her own hand, her brother one or two bites of sweets and correspondingly, the brother feeding his sister one or more portion of sweets by his own hand. The pietistic yellow or orange dye of the Rakhi cord also signifies a divine definition as these two are the colors of Rakhi used by Goddess ‘Yamuna’ and Goddess ‘Laxmi’ respectively to decorate the wrists of their own brothers. The aeon of Rakhi also embraces the mirthful tradition of exchange of presents between brothers and sisters. Bestowing one’s brother and one’s sister with winsome souvenirs is also a gladsome culture of this day. During this seraphic day, heart of every brother and every sister craves to shower his sister or her brother with delightful pleasantries. On this auspicious day, sisters also take care to radiate the cheerful ardor of the day to the brothers staying abroad by sending them Rakhi, Greetings Card or Assorted Sweets and thus to taint them with the chromaticity of this day.

The stint of Rakhi is exclusively for merry-making and quality time-spending between ‘Bhaiyas’ and ‘Behenas’ (Hindi words for Brother and Sister). But in the cloak of this carousal, this distinctive ceremony also boosts up the intrinsic fabric of fraternity within a family. Taking out time to arrange impeccably all the particulars of the observance and dedicating a whole day to her brother aids a sister to express exquisitely her nurtured love for her beloved brother and dedicating time to experience the sacred ceremony and buying with own discernment an exotic token for his sister with saved pocket money or hard-earned money, facilitates a brother to make his sister realize his heart-felt cohesion towards her. While epitomizing the instinctive linkage between a brother and a sister and their devoir towards one another, the gala of Raksha Bandhan also nourishes the ingrained love, heed and respect between biologically or mentally related brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan enhances a most natural and most close nexus of mankind.

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