Raksha Bandhan

All the beauty of Raksha Bandhan (Raksha “protection” Bandhan “to tie” in Hindi) lies in the fact that it pushes us to go beyond fixed traditional relationships.

A festival between “brothers” and sisters, (not necessarily biological brothers) Raksha Bandhan is celebrated through different ethnicities in India regardless of their religions. A global Indian presence implies that the Raksha Bandhan is celebrated throughout the world. This custom begins well before D-day. Several days or even weeks before, women buy or make rakhis, beautiful colorful bracelets made of cotton yarn. On D-Day, the women tie the rakhis on their brother’s wrist after a small aarti and a tilak on the forehead. In return, the brothers offer them a small gift (money, sweets, etc.) as a mark of affection.

This cotton bracelet that is worn all day and even over a few days, is very symbolic. It’s a promise of protection. The ritual of rakhi reinforces this fraternal bond between family and friends. With this celebration, we transcend the barriers of blood, age and religious belonging. It is therefore not uncommon to see a Hindu lady tying a rakhi on the wrist of a Muslim man. For those who live in cities or different countries, it is not uncommon for them to send the rakhis by post! This tradition coincides with the full moon in the month of Shravan, the fifth month in the Hindu year.

There are several stories in the Indian heritage that refers to this old custom. The oldest is that of Sri Krishna and Draupadi. During the war against the evil king Shishupal, Sri Krishna found himself with a bloody finger. On seeing him, Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, tore a silk band from his sari to heal his finger. Moved by her affection and her concern for him, Sri Krishna swore to protect her from all evil thereafter. Several years later, when the Pandavas lost a rigged game against the Kauravas, the latter wanted to undress Draupadi before the kings to dishonor her. Sri Krishna intervened in his non-physical aspect by giving her several layers of sari so that it was impossible for them to do so.