Raksha Bandhan - A Sanctified Celebration Of Kinship

25 April 2016

The denomination “Raksha Bandhan” is derived from the clerical Sanskrit language signifying “Tie of Safeguard” (“Raksha” meaning Safeguard and “Bandhan” meaning Tie). One of the most favored and sacred festivals of India, “Raksha Bandhan” is a pious commemoration of the ingrained nexus between a brother and a sister of the same blood, of the same family or of the same lineage. Patronage of historical anecdotes and gradual escalation of the communication between the two opposite sexes have further favored the welcome evolution of this commemoration in lauding the nurtured linkage between a man and a woman having no kinship connection but bonded from heart by the chaste fraternal feel. At this blessed conviviality a blood or “feel” sister decorates the right wrist of her blood or “feel” brother with a dappled and divine cord esteemed by Hinduism as Rakhi. This seraphic string fundamentally binds a brother with the vow of endorsing his sister in her every venture and cardinally urges a sister to yearn to God for her brother’s prosperity and peace. An essentially hallowed carousal, the fete of “Raksha Bandhan” is a gifted spectrum of India in evincing to the rest of the world the certitude and chastity of the “Bhai-Behen” (Brother-Sister) nexus shared by Indian men and women.

Glorified with a defined heritage of mind-riveting mythological tales and heart-filling historical yarns, the veneration of “Raksha Bandhan” is a 6000 years old one initiating at the time-period, when existed Indian sub-continent’s most plentiful and thriving civilization----the Indus Valley Civilization. Celebrated annually during the mid of August month, the particular stint of the festival of “Rakhi” arrives in accordance with the Hindu religious almanac as when comes “Shravan Purnima” or the day with a full moon night in the month of August. The bout of this distinctive “Shravan Purnima” traces its significance in Indian mythology where it has been expressed that it was during this holy spell that Goddess Lakshmi tied the pietistic band of Rakhi to the Vishnu-devotee demon king Bali at his palace. This exquisite and enticing mythological fable is also the nurturer of the revered Indian tradition of inviting one’s sister to one’s house during the heyday of Rakhi. Further, the cherished ritual of promising to pay heed to one’s sister’s well-being and emphasizing to God for one’s brother’s health and fortune also inherits its genesis from the enthralling mythological legend of Lord Yama---the God of Death and his sister Goddess Yamuna---the Goddess of the river Yamuna. The parable stresses that while blessing his own sister with her wish of tying Rakhi every year on her brother’s hand, God Yama also voiced out that every brother, who will show full devotion to the commitment of Rakhi, will be blessed with the boon of eternity. The cause of selecting a colorful cotton band as the celestial band of Rakhi is again encompassed in the mytho-historical epic of Mahabharata where it has been showcased that the Mahabharata princess Draupadi tore a part of her sari for bandaging a cut finger of Lord Krishna. This narrative of princess Draupadi and Lord Krishna is taken by Indians as the laying stone of the development of “Raksha Bandhan” festival in India and they also trace the origin of the virtuous Rakhi vows in this affecting tale which teaches to brothers and sisters, just how to protect each other during the most needy times of any one of the two. The sublime yellow or orange hue of the Rakhi cord also encircles a clerical definition as these two are the colors of Rakhi used by Goddess ‘Yamuna’ and Goddess ‘Laxmi’ to bedeck the wrists of their own brothers.

The celebration of the divine bash of Rakhi is essentially emblazed by dulcet Indian rituals. On the prime day of “Raksha Bandhan”, both the sister and the brother deck up themselves in the ethnic Indian garbs of Sari or Salwar Kameez and Pyajama Kurta or Punjabi Pyjama. They meet up, generally at parents’ house or at the house of the brother in the welcome presence of their parents, grandparents and other important elderly relatives. The brother and sister then sit face-to-face and the sister, at first, performs the beatific custom of “Aarti” wherein she revolves, with all the piety, for three times, a metal plate garnished with sweets, an enlightened candle or lamp and the blessed cord of Rakhi. “Aarti” is followed by the blessed praxis of “Tilak” at which, the sister graces her brother’s forehead with a colorful mark of vermillion and rice titled by Hindus as the “Tilak”. The prime observance of “Raksha Bandhan” follows the ritual of “Tilak”. After tying the Rakhi, if the brother is an elder one, then the sister touches her brother’s feet and avows to pray for the fortune and felicity of her brother for lifetime and the brother in return blesses his sister with the oath of being there for her in her every need during his lifetime. With the same sublime vows of each, if the sister is the elder one then the brother touches her feet with affirmation of adherence to her and the sister blesses him with heart-rendered heed for him. A candied ending to these solemn practices is made by realizing the sweet protocol of “Mooh Mitha” through which the brother-sister duet feed each other by their own hands a bite or two of sweets. The winsome episode of bestowing one’s brother with titillating presents and correspondingly showering the loving sister with fetching gifts is also an informal but prime affair of this heyday. Such enticing is the veneration of one of the most austere and ornate festivals of India - “Raksha Bandhan”.

The aforementioned praxes being the cardinal elements of the celebration of “Raksha Bandhan”, some riveting evolutions have made their way in this exquisite commemoration as time has moved on. For instance, the Rakhi or “Rakhadi” (as is known in Indian Colloquial Language), in the past, used to be of simple orange and yellow knitted strings---which has, with the pace of time, changed into Rakhis made of fluffy cotton, 'zari' paper, tinsel, beads etc, Rakhis like Rakhi with Cartoon Characters (for baby brothers), Musical Rakhi, Rakhi with Metal Chain, Rakhi with plating of Gold/Silver/Diamond, Bracelet Rakhi (a typical bracelet designed in the pattern of a Rakhi), Rudraksha Rakhi (made of the “Rudraksha” seed) and myriad of such engagingly innovative “Rakhadis”. Similarly, welcome changes have also got introduced in electing Rakhi special souvenirs for one’s brother or one’s sister. Whereas in the past, “Raksha Bandhan” gifts encompassed mainly garments and jewelries, modern day preferences of brothers and sisters range from cosmetics, perfumes, watches, auto gears, DVDs, books, Rakhi exclusive Greetings Cards with touchy phrases inscribed within, tempting chocolate assortments and so on. Variations have further arrived in the pattern of time-spending among “Bhais and “Behens” (Indian term for brothers and sisters) during the spell of “Raksha Bandhan”. During old times, quality time-spending signified the brother and sister enjoying a home-cooked savory meal and chatting and reminiscing revered childhood memories at the cozy comfort of home. But the modern generation bro-sis duets opt for, after the proper realization of the “Raksha Bandhan” ceremony, going out for shopping, movie-watching, eating out and outdoor merry-making. Thus has changed the dynamics of the traditionally trig “Raksha Bandhan” conviviality in India, with the fundamental fervor of coherence and caring remaining same and certain throughout the times.

Celebrated with utmost earnestness and deep-felt zeal mainly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa, the carousal of Rakhi is, however, recognized with much sincerity and devotion throughout India. A virtuous garb of the ethereal and eternal fraternal feel thriving among human race’s two opposite genders, covers the whole India during the pious bout of “Raksha Bandhan”.

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