A modern twist to a traditional festival in Canterbury

A modern twist to a traditional festival in Canterbury

Shirish Paranjape 
Christchurch, August 22, 2019

Fire & Emergency New Zealand Officer Nick Down with children at the Festival (Picture Supplied)

The month of Shravan (Monsoon) in the Hindu Calendar heralds the beginning of the Festive Season in India.

One such Festival is Raksha Bandhan, meaning the bond of protection.

This bond was celebrated in a very special way at a Festival organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (Hindu Volunteer Society) on Sunday, August 18, 2019 at Harvard Community Hall, Wigram, Christchurch.

Traditionally, sisters in India tie Rakhi (a simple thread, which lends itself to creativity and expensive and exquisite designs) on their brother’s wrist.

The brothers perform the role of protecting their sisters.

Today’s Brothers

But in the modern world, it is the Police, Firemen, Ambulance Services, Civil Defence and similar organisations who protect us.

Therefore, about 15 team members from five organisations (New Zealand Police, Fire & Emergency New Zealand, Saint John Ambulance, Horizon Ambulance and Civil Defence) were invited to participate in the Festival.

St John Ambulance Office Mick receives traditional welcome (Pictures Supplied)

They were welcomed at the venue in the traditional Hindu way by applying Tilak on their forehead. Children, guided by adults, tied Rakhi on the wrist of each guest and offered them sweets. These Rakhis were made by children and members of the community at the same venue in a free rakhi-making workshop a week earlier, adding a warm personal touch.

Unique Event

One representative from each organisation gave a short speech, in which the common theme was the sense of feeling honoured and humbled at being a part of this unique event held for the first time at Christchurch.

A bonus and star attraction for children was the fire truck which the crew had brought with them. ‘Children’ of all ages had the time of their life exploring the magnificent red truck amidst explanations by the crew.

Everyone present hope that this event would come back bigger and better in 2020.

Shirish Paranjape is our Correspondent based in Christchurch.


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