Raksha Bandhan, The Festival of Universal Fraternity

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From ancient times, India has been promoting universal brotherhood. The famous Tamil literature which dates back to the first century before the Christian era narrates about the universal brotherhood in a beautiful poem, composed by a poet called Kanian Poongundran. It says, “Every village or town is our own and every one on this earth is our relative; we live on this earth only for a short period; let us love one another and spend our life in happiness.”

Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival that celebrates universal fraternity. The word Raksha Bandhan means “the inseparable bond of protection”. This festival is a special occasion to promote love, care, affection and sacred feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood among all around us, commemorating the whole world as one family.

A festival of universal fraternity

Raksha Bandhan, which had been celebrated in the north and western regions of India for a long time, is celebrated now all over the world.  The rituals of this festival symbolize unity among all men and women irrespective of caste, creed and other disparities. Rakhi, the sacred thread of this festival, has become an integral part of the traditional rituals throughout the world.

The meaningful rituals of Raksha Bandhan

On the day of Raksha Bandhan, girls in the house get up early in the morning and prepare the pooja plate with offerings like rice and sweets. They keep the Rakhi thread, which is the main item of the ritual, in the center of the plate. The rituals begin with an offering ceremony (pooja) and a prayer in front of God’s image. Then the sister ties the Rakhi thread on the wrist of her brother and wishes him all blessings and happiness. In turn, the brother acknowledges his sister’s love with a promise to stand by her through all the good and bad times.

Tying of Rakhi thread

When the sisters tie Rakhi threads on the wrists of their brothers, mantras are chanted, thilak is applied on their foreheads and prayers are invoked for their well-being. The sisters give gifts to their brothers and the brothers exchange gifts to their sisters. Male and female members, even out of the family circles, follow these rituals as brothers and sisters. Nowadays it has become a festival of promoting relationship between male and female residing at far off places. Hand made Rakhi threads and self-made Rakhi cards are available today to make the rituals easier. E-Rakhi also has become the part of modern culture. The Indian children meet the President, Prime Minister and other important persons of the country and tie the Rakhi threads on their wrists.

A reminder of Chivalry

This festival reminds me the European tradition of Chivalry, which had rituals of protecting women and children during the medieval ages.

Every festival is for promoting relationships and communal harmony through sharing happiness. The modern life style has made life extremely busy, forgetting relationships in and out of the families. This festival is an occasion to build up relationships between all human beings as brothers and sisters. Today is the day of Raksha Bandhan. Let us all come together as one affectionate family. 

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