Indian culture places fraternal relationship on a high pedestal and in the case of brothers and sisters, it acquires loftier meaning.
From a social point of view, the bond between two siblings of genders is eulogised by the fact that the girl of the house leaves home to set up her own after marriage and becomes part of another family.
And even villains in Indian films goes crazy when a woman, no less the heroine utters the word ‘bhayya’ (brother) and drops the idea of molesting or kidnapping her!
In Mahabharat, Lord Krishna is the ‘God Brother’ of Draupathi and when the evil king Duryodhana calls on his brother Duchadana to disrobe her in the court room, He comes to her rescue.
Such tales abound in literature as well.
In ancient India, Shrava Purnima’s second festival is Raksha Bandhan. Bhavishya Purana refers to a battle between gods and demons and Indra (the king of the Devas) was feeling depressed. At that time, his wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra’s hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then the festival is celebrated.
Through the passage of time, festivals have been undergoing modifications. Raksha Bandhan is also known as ‘Rakhi,’ a sacred festival for sisters and brothers. Sisters tie them to brothers. Priests tie them to people of his congregation. During the middle ages, if a woman tied a Rakhi on the hand of any man, then it became imperative for him, as his religious duty of the highest order, to protect that woman. That man would put his life at stake to protect the honour of that woman.
According to ancient traditions, it is customary to have protection threads that are charged with sacred verses (Mantras) and sanctified with rice, durva, grass and so on to have these tied by people who know the Vedas or by near and dear ones. This protection thread saves from sins on the one hand and removes diseases on the other hand. By tying this thread, protection is afforded for a full one year and all kinds of fears are removed.
Nowadays, Rakhis are decorated with soft silky threads of various colours and with ornaments, pictures, gold and silver threads. These Rakhis enhance the artistry of the people. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. It is also a great sacred verse of unity.
New Zealand Scene
Raksha Bhandan has been celebrated in New Zealand since long and records show early settlers marking the day in a number of ways-sisters in India sending Rakhis by post to their brothers here, sisters residing in New Zealand sending the item to their brothers in India or elsewhere, sisters tying the Rakhi to a person who they have accepted as their brother and so on.
The growing Indian community in the country has witnessed a host of festivities observed to denote the occasion. Temples perform special poojas as people gather to pray for the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters. Clubs and associations organise special events to mark the occasion.
A number of Indian outlets market colourful Rakhis which women purchase. In turn, their brothers are lured with expensive and not-so-expensive gifts including saris, jewellery, home appliances, books, stationery, sweets and much more.
Says a reader: “The delicate cord tied by the sister to the brother on this day pulsates with this sublime sentiment. History and legends of Bharat abound in touching episodes of ladies seeking protection from far-off, unacquainted heroes, though the Rakhi.”
File Photo of Raksha Bandhan Festival conducted by the Hindu Organisations Temples & Associations (HOTA) Forum in Auckland on August 31, 2013.