Reflections From A Hindu Perspective | Raksha-Bandhan: A potential world festival

Pattekar

DR. MANDAR PATTEKAR

I am an optimist. I sincerely believe that if every human felt a bond with another, we may be able to overcome greed, lust for power, and insecurities and end all wars and resultant carnages. The more things we have in common, the better chance of this being possible (although all of us being humans was not good enough until now). A common festival celebrated all over the world by all humans irrespective of religion, race, geographic location, or social status, celebrated with OTHERS would be a good step in this direction. A festival celebrated by Hindus called Raksha-Bandhan is a good candidate for this World Festival.

Traditionally, Raksha-Bandhan has been a festival during which sisters tie a decorated silken thread, a Rakhi, to the wrists of their brothers which establishes a bond or contract where the brother pledges to protect the sister, and the thread acts as an amulet with sister’s blessing to protect the brother. This was especially important when a married sister lived at a considerable distance from her parents’ home, and this festival was an occasion where the brother could visit her without protest from hostile in-laws. The sister would prepare a feast and welcome her brother. The brother in turn would give gifts to his sister, unfettered by his own wife. This relation between brother and sister could be non-biological, and there are many historical stories where a Rakhi-brother came through his obligation to help his Rakhi-sister in distress.

In modern times, with many women being physically stronger than men, and physical strength being superseded by ballistic weapons, women routinely protect men from violence as police, soldiers, and bystanders. Additionally, physical strength is no longer the only shield, given that political power, financial power, and legal acumen may be very effective protective forces. Therefore, the organization to which I belong – Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA (Hindu Volunteer Organization, USA) conducts a festival of tying Rakhis to police personnel, firefighters, as well as public officeholders, in addition to other volunteers of the organization. These Rakhis are tied regardless of gender, with a non-verbalized contract to protect each other when need arises. For the last sixteen years, more than a few dozen chapters have visited their brothers and sisters in the police station, fire stations, and elected official offices to explain the significance of the festival and tie the silken thread. This year we plan to expand to include sanitary workers, emergency communication centers, and locally any service providers who maintain safety of the general public.

If this concept was expanded to and embraced by the general American public to appreciate and acknowledge not just the safety and security providers but also each other, crossing racial, socio-economical, and especially in the current environment, the political divide, this would strengthen our mutual bond. Assume for a second this concept taking hold in all countries and their citizens tying Rakhis to each other on one worldwide mutually agreed upon day, wherever all humans encounter each other. On the day, people will carry a bunch of Rakhis in their pockets as they leave their houses. Governments will issue biodegradable, nutrient infused viable plant seeds containing Rakhis for free distribution on railways and bus stations as well as airports. After the festival these Rakhis can be planted in any soil and seeds will germinate to give rise to plants. People will tie Rakhis to each other in international business meetings, security and peace negotiations, borders between countries, general passengers on airports, and even in the United Nations general assembly. Think about the impact on the overall human psychology where a physical action and the Rakhi – a physical memento – will remind every person the shared bond of mutual protection and welfare, even for one particular day of the year.

Just something to think about, and possibly act on in the “not so distant” future.



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