THE international Hindu celebration of brotherly/sisterly bonding, also known as Raksha Bandhan is being celebrated today.
Raksha Bandhan translates to mean “knot or bond of protection” where a scared thread called a “rakhi” is tied around the wrist of a brother by a sister.
The annual ceremony was brought over to the West Indies from India during the period of East Indian Indentureship. Today, it symbolises more than the traditional bond between siblings, as some view it for a time of spiritual introspection.
Traditionally, Raksha Bandhan has been recognised as a bond of protection, love and duty between a brother and sister.
There are many stories associated with the festivity where brothers came to the defence of their sister’s honour, purity and chastity.
One such story is within the epic Mahabharata, when Queen Draupadi tore a piece of her clothing and tied the cloth (rakhi) to the hand of Lord Krishna when he injured himself during the battel with king Shishupal. Touched by her devotion, in return, Krishna promised to protect her and which he did when she was being disrobed in the family’s court.
Where there are no blood related siblings, voluntary kin, or those who recognise another as a siblings, perform the rituals involved.
The sister ties the rakhi or amulet to the right hand of the brother. She prays that he is blessed and kept in good health and then feeds him a sweet treat.
She also performs the waving of a scared light (aarti) around him and the brother then blesses her with a vow of protection. Gifts of clothing, money and personal items are often exchanged as well.
Making it easier for members of the public to celebrate the event, rakhis are made and sold at puja stores are varying costs ranging from $4 to the more elaborate and decorative priced at $30.
The sweets are also pre-packaged and sold for convenience.