Nowhere across the globe is the brother-sister bond so consecrated as in this land, where human civilization first found its voice and human relations have always preceded all other dynamics of social interactions. Celebrated in the end of Shrawan on a full-moon day, according to the Hindu calendar, this holy festival falls in the month of August and is celebrated in most of the Hindi speaking belt in India which majorly comprises of Northern, Western and Central India.
Rakhi is basically a thread, holy and sacred which ties the brother-sister into a bond of mutual love, respect and affection within a protective circle of familial tie. As inall other Indian festivals, this day too is celebrated with food, fun and rituals. The families gather together, exchange sweets and gifts and enjoy this day. The festival of Rakhi is unique in its premise that it is not limited to ties within the family but lay emphasis on the larger bonds of heart which surpass the man – made,imitations of caste, race and religion.
The earliest documented evidence of Rakhi celebration goes back to 6000 years ago, as found in the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization. Rakhi, as an Indian festival reached its heights of glory in the hands of the Rajputs for whom the honour of their sisters and daughters was of utmost importance. When Rani Karnawati, the widow of King of Chittor realised she was helpless and desperate in the wake of the onslaught by Sultan of Gujarat, she sent across a Rakhi and a request to Emperor Humayun, who promptly dispatched his troops in response to her pleading.
So did Draupadi, the wife of the Panch Pandav who tied a symbolic Rakhi on Lord Krishna once when he hurt himself. In keeping with the sanctity of the bond when the time came for protecting her from being disrobed in front of the Kaurav clan, Lord Krishna ensured her saree went on for miles, thus upholding the honor of this divine relation.
Rakhi celebration is the perfect time to rejuvenate and splurge on the brother-sister relation. The sacred thread that is tied around the brother’s wrist and the prayers for his long life and well-being is duly honored with return gifts in keeping with the social standing of the person. It need not be something material at all times. The promise of standing next to her in times of happiness and distress, of protecting and honoring her, of being the strongest support she has on this planet, suffices, in most cases as the richest tribute one can pay to this relation.
Earlier Rakhi, as a festival was limited to celebrating the brother-sister bond as one of the purest and fondest human relation. However, with the changing times, the dynamics of social relationships are evolving. The brother is no more the only protector a sister has, a sister too can be the protector of her brother or her sisters. So, it has gravitated to celebrating the sibling bond without being wedged by gender bias.
The world today has become a global platform. Humans need to have more empathy for each other to be able to survive better. It is time we re-define this festival to encompass all humanity to have a more definitive purpose.
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