Do we need to restore purity to Raksha Bandhan?

The festival of Raksha Bandhan is one which celebrates the bond of love between brothers and sisters. That is my understanding of what Rakhi is supposed to be about. There is something about the pure nature of the brother sister relationship which has always made it one of my favorite festivals.

I was fortunate enough, growing up in India, to have been blessed with many fond memories and observances of Rakhi. There always was the anticipation of having those lovely bright Rakhis tied to your wrist and the exchange of sweets between me and my sisters. In the days before Rakhi, I would always wonder what color, texture and type of Rakhi my sisters would be buying for me.There was a surprise element in that we never knew what the Rakhi(s) would look like till the minute my sister(s) would pull the Rakhi(s) out of the specially wrapped package. Sometimes, it would be a simple collection of threads, woven together in different colors. Sometimes, there would be bright, gold and silver colored decorations attached to silver-coated threads that would bite into your skin ~ my sister would tie it very tightly.

Rakhi 2011

For years now, the Rakhi comes via mail ~ from 8000 miles away. Every year. Without fail. The 2011 edition.

It was as if she was reminding me. Don’t forget. This is the bond of love and protection. You are agreeing to defend me, my honor, against all enemies, with all that you have, up to, and including your life itself.

In my mind, that is the true significance of Raksha Bandhan. It is not about the box of sweets or chocolates that you are going to give to him or the gifts that your brother is going to you in return. Perhaps we can take our focus off of the material trinkets we are going to receive. And instead resolve to go back to the purity of purpose for which the festival of Rakhi was perhaps first celebrated.

We are perhaps the only culture in the world that celebrates the brother sister bond with such pure joy. Let us resolve to bring that purity back to our celebration. So, Lakshmi can truly shower us with all the wealth we desire ~ in the material, mental and spiritual dimensions of our life.

What does Raksha Bandhan mean to you? Has the overt commercial aspect of the festival pushed the purity of purpose to the background? Please do share your thoughts.


P.S. If you are perhaps estranged from your brother or sister for some reason, I encourage you ~ no, I implore you. Reach out. Pick up the phone or use the technology of your choice. Break down that wall and communicate. You have an opportunity to restore the bond ~ with love.