Almost all Hindu festivals act as a unifying factor in bringing families, relatives, friends and entire communities together. Raksha Bandhan is no exception as it is a festive celebration that binds people together in a display of bonding and harmony.
The day of Raksha Bandhan is most auspicious not only because it is the Shraavan Poornima (Full-moon in the month of Shraavan) and Gayatri Jayanti, but it has an inherent power that brings siblings together. Not only siblings but other relations look forward to this day. Raksha Bandhan expands beyond family ties and is an excellent opportunity to also highlight the deep brotherly consideration, respect and bond that many females share with some non-relatives. Many, if not all observances on the Hindu calendar are based on the involvement and participation of all members of the family. The family is the foundation of any society, the bedrock of any civilization and the nutrient of a well-sustained and well-ordained culture. The observance of occasions such as Raksha Bandhan reinforces the importance of families and provides a deeper appreciation for strong family-based moral values.
On this auspicious day, the sister ties a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist which symbolizes the sister’s love and wish for her brother’s well-being, and the brother’s recommitment to his lifelong vow to protect her throughout his life. The festival serves to strengthen the bond of love between the sisters and brothers, and other family members. It is a day of honor, dignity and respect for women.
But hidden beneath the traditional tying of the knot of protection is the deep significance of the occasion that goes beyond the boundary of just brother- sister relationship. The occasion is also one of a social binding, one that spreads the message of harmonious family and community ties. When a rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where all members of the community commit to protect each other and the society is considered to be a congregational family.
Additionally, in an age of changing times women’s roles are no longer confined to the home only, but today females hold the reins of power in the workplace, in huge companies, religious organizations and at a national level. In such a setting, the question is often asked whether they need their brothers for protection. The answer lies in the deep regard and tight links that bind relationships in Hinduism. While the sister may no longer need the physical protection that she grew up with, she forever depends on her brother to be an emotional anchor, a towering shoulder of strength on which she can place her inner burdens.
Apart from the brother-sister bond of protection, the burning question is whether the parent-child bond is also of significance. A glance at the world’s headlines today paint a different picture. Now, more than ever there is need for round-the-clock protection of our young girls and indeed all children, for they are the endangered species among us. The atrocities committed against these vulnerable members of our society are most horrendous. The gruesome news headlines that flash across the news screen daily indicate the poor level of protection provided to them. That strong bond of protection must certainly go way beyond the mere brother-sister relationship but fostered among all children, and among mankind, on the whole. Not only is the bond reinforced, but all forms of powerful fortresses come to the fore to strengthen the bonds of each other, thereby striving towards making the entire world one family. How badly our torn world needs such unity!
As Hindus celebrate the occasion of Raksha Bandhan on August 07, 2017, each of us, whether brother , sister or friend, we should aim to protect each other, thereby bringing us closer to our own Divinity.