TAMIL NADU

Raksha Bandhan - bonding a man to his sister forever A touching ritual of love

BINDING PEOPLE TOGETHER: Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Iswarya Vishwa Vidyala sisters performing the `rakhi' ritual with members of SHGs on the Madurai Collectorate premises on Friday. — Photo: S. James.

BINDING PEOPLE TOGETHER: Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Iswarya Vishwa Vidyala sisters performing the `rakhi' ritual with members of SHGs on the Madurai Collectorate premises on Friday. — Photo: S. James.  

The custom also transcends the confines of the family

S.S. Kavitha

MADURAI: Many of the residents of Madurai entered into a `sacred and new relationship' with unknown persons on Friday morning. `Rakhis' adorned their wrists, stirring up deep and noble emotions — the abiding and chaste bond of love between a brother and sister. Our country's history abounds with touching episodes of women seeking help from their `brothers' and many a legend has been etched in memory of this beautiful relationship.

The pages of Indian history highlight instances of Rajput and Maratha queens sending `rakhis' to Mughal kings who, despite being foes, had helped their `rakhi sisters' during critical moments. Legend has it that the great Hindu king Porus refrained from striking Alexander the Great because the latter's wife had tied a `rakhi' on his hand and requested him not to hurt her husband on the battlefield. The custom goes back to the Mahabharatha, when Draupathi tore a piece off her sari and tied it over Lord Krishna's wound, who in turn, came to her rescue in the court of the Kauravas.

Many festivals have transgressed cultural barriers and Raksha Bandhan, which originated in the North, is one among them. Nowadays, the festival had come to stay in the southern States too, said Anuradha Raheja, a housewife.

The ritual is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu month `Shravan,' on which sisters tie the sacred `rakhi' strings on the right wrist of their brothers, seeking God's blessings on him and the brother's blessings on herself. The thread-tying ceremony is often preceded by an `arathi,' she said.

This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcends the confines of the family. When a `rakhi' is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbours it stresses the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exists peacefully.

"We are aping western culture in celebrating Valentine's Day and Friendship Day. Why not we ape our own Indian culture from the northern part of our own country," asked S. Shabana, a postgraduate student of Madura College, who celebrated Raksha Bandhan with her friends, including Sathish, whose wrist was lined with `rakhis.'

A. Sangeetha, working in a private hospital, was busy selecting a `rakhi' for her `brother' when she said she was happy that she had a day to share her sisterly love with her friend.

Shops have umpteen new `rakhi' designs to cater to the needs of sisters and brothers, Kishore V. Shah, owner of Remuki, a supermarket, said, and added that there has been a rise in the sale of `rakhis' in the past few years.

Earlier in the morning, members of various organisations such as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyaarthi Parishad and Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Iswarya Vishwa Vidyala tied `rakhis' on the wrists of the Madurai Collector, D. Raajendiran, and members of self-help groups on the Collectorate premises.

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