Raksha Bandhan – The essence of love

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Archita Baweja

‘A brother’s vow of protection, a sister’s commitment of love and a connotation of universal harmony ‘

Remember those childhood days – The fight with your brother over the last cookie, or who’s turn it was to have the T.V. remote. I still can’t forget the times when my brother made me do his art assignments, called me names or hit me with a pillow. Our rivalry would be at its peak when he messed up my hair or read my messages.

I always thought my happiness would have no bound if he went to another city for his higher education. And yet, when he left, I missed his foolishness, our spats and everything we did together as siblings. At that point, I realised even though he was mean to me sometimes and naughty as hell, we were still ‘partners in crime’.

With the passing time we have both settled in our lives now and reside in different countries, but as they say, ‘distance only brings you closer’. The relationship and friendship that we share is remarkable and is celebrated throughout the year but there is one day that marks a special time to express that love and affection, which is during the festival ‘Rakhi’.

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that stands out from other celebrations, as this day is dedicated to the unique relationship between a brother and sister. It is not only a symbol of this incomparable bond, but also a reflection of their love, belief and confidence in each other.

Rakhi is celebrated throughout India in its various forms. On this day, a sister ties a sacred thread called ‘Rakhi’ on her brother’s wrist, puts a tilak on his forehead and performs Aarti. These rituals are an expression of her fondness and warmth towards her brother. To return this love, the brother promises to take care of his sister and hands her with a gorgeous gift. This gift is the most exciting part of the festival, at least for me. Jokes apart! But indeed, it feels special to be pampered by your brother with an exceptional gift, which he picks himself.

Today Rakhi is celebrated throughout the world, and in various cities across Australia. Sisters send ornate cards and the sacred thread of Rakhi across borders to show how precious their siblings are. Moving a step forward, not only brothers and sisters or siblings but people not related by blood take part in this merrymaking.

This celebration has evolved from just being a family ritual to an occasion which bridges the gap between people of different religions and ethnicities. The famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was the first one to bring out this different connotation of the festival when he tried to use this occasion to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims, to avoid the division of Bengal.

Raksha Bandhan focuses on strengthening the relationships that make a difference in our life and thus make it more valuable. Unfortunately, this year because of Covid-19 most people here in Melbourne, and Victoria have celebrated Rakhi digitally as there are Stage 4 restrictions in place and it was impossible to meet and greet. Despite all these limitations, I hope this legacy of bonding through festivals keeps alive while passing on from one generation to the next and giving us a special day and reason to be grateful for. 

Raksha Bandhan focuses on a relationship so unique and profound, 

A sibling who is always around 

Their love is covert and seldom expressed, 

Yet they are a team so strong, sticking together in every quest 

They quarrel, tease and interfere,

But always are in each other’s prayer….

Happy Raksha Bandhan to everyone!

By Archita Baweja

(Archita Baweja of Melbourne is an engineer by profession but a writer at heart)

More from Archita:

Jagannath Ratha Yatra: A conflux of our tradition and belief

TEEJ: A paradigm of progression, or not?