Raksha Bandhan: The True Essence Of Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Symbolic Meaning And Relevance

Before I start, I would like to say that we use the words brotherhood and sisterhood loosely here and they are in no way linked to the cults and their philosophies :). This post is a simple one dedicated to the meaning and essence of Raksha Bandhan, what it means to us, how it started, its purpose and of course a light bit of humourย around it :).

History and its Meaning

Raksha BandhanHistory dates back to Mythology when Draupadi tied a piece of her saree as a bandage to his cut and Krishna would respond that she wrapped him in a debt which he would repay each thread when the time arrives. And we all know the story of Draupadi’s vastrapaharan and how Krishna came to the rescue. Well that is a part of history and Mythology- what we decide to call it. However the essence of the Rakshan Bandhan quite remains the same and simply translated it is a tie of protection where a brother plays the role of protector and in Sanskrit it means “The Knot of Protection”.ย 

Current Day Meaning

It is interesting how each of these customs have stood the test of time. The festival usually is celebrated with a thread tied to the brother’s hand and a small ritual has been built around it. The symbolic meaning still remains the same and so does the sanctity in a lot of places. However a slight variation might be in the form of gifts which are exchanged. I am not really sure about the logic of that but it sure seems like a well driven business model where companies make the most of the festivals like Valentines Day! Well, we are no one to pass a judgement on that but we do find it a bit funny nevertheless :).

But we really like that the symbolic meaning has remained the same and on the outset it might seem like a good moral to follow as well to create a nicer fabric in the society. Nevertheless it sure is a nice festival to celebrate. We would like to share a video which has been circling around this Raksha Bandhan day and we really like the essence and the social message it is trying to deliver.

The last few days have been a little intense with the Jasleen Kaur case and sexual harassment meted out to women. The video sends out a clear message about this and the responsibility of the fellow men. Finally it doesn’t down to the man – woman segregation – it boils down to the good and bad, it boils down to the action or inaction of the good which either curbs the evil or bolsters it. It is said that the unfortunate thing of the society is not the lack of good men but their inaction. I am not really sure how many of us have made the effort to prevent harassment even in the smallest way when we see it around us.

The Inaction of Good Men or The Action of Bad Men!

I am not going to justify it, neither am I going to talk smack about that cos even I know that I have been guilty of the same and I don’t know how much courage I would muster to do such a necessary deed. But then again I wonder, the power of people is absolutely astounding and there is nothing that can stop them. Each time I think about a scene like this, there are usually 2-3 bad eggs which insensitively makes horrible comments and the others pretend to turn a deaf ear.

Are they afraid that these bad eggs are going to hurt them? Or do they think that it is none of their business cos it is someone they don’t know and hence find it easier to ignore (Please note, when I say they, it includes me as well. I am trying to figure out the reasons for inaction and why this entire crass behaviour prevails even though there are some really good people out there)? Or is it that the evil is way too strong compared to the will of good men or women?

Why does a Right become a Luxury?

What is it really? Why does it have to be a heroic event to stand for one’s own rights? Shouldn’t it be a given instead? Shouldn’t it be a responsibility of all of us around to clean up the dirt as and when we see it instead of thinking that the world has become a horrible place? If that is the case, what is our role in it? It looks like I am ranting here are blaming the people around, truth is I am blaming myself too. I am blaming the inaction and the fact that equality seems such a farfetched goal. I am blaming that it has become so easy that oppression has become a norm instead of an exception that needs to be beaten black and blue.

Apologies that the post sounds a bit negative around the end, but it simply is impossible not to ask these questions for ourselves. Maybe that will lead us somewhere. Atleast on the Raksha Bandhan day, if we can make a decision to stand up for what we think is right, make a promise to ourselves to stand up for what we believe in right, maybe we are headed towards a better social fabric.

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We'd love to hear your thoughts below..

  1. This is one of the most interesting posts I’ve read on Rakhi day…. You are right to say that the change must come from within, we should be heralding it. But, in reality, somehow most of us fail to gather the courage to stand against or fight against the evil. ๐Ÿ™

    • Thank you Maniparna :). I agree, I think the base of every change or revolution must be from within, Gandhi said it and so did many others. I think they all said it for a reason. Change has to happen somewhere or else the inaction stumps in front of all the action of the bad eggs of the society. It is a shame that the evil trumps the good and somehow that doesn’t add up at all!

  2. Rightly pointed out Vinay..the custom remains but more as a ritual than anything else. While people do not like others misbehaving with their sisters, they think nothing of harassing or misbehaving with other women.It’s not easy to stand up against something that prevails so widely, but then change in mindset has to start with ourselves.

    • It might probable be because it is easy to dissociate from any responsibility and sensitivity when it comes to someone else. I guess we only take it personally when it pinches and it sure does when it happens to someone we know. But when it happens with someone who is not directly related, it becomes so easy to create that distance and develop a rationalisation to free ourselves from any responsibility. Maybe that little association and sensitivity can go a long way in resovling the simple issues in front of us.

  3. One of the most intriguing articles that I came across on Raksha Bandhan Vinay ๐Ÿ™‚ . Glad to go through your detailed perception and support the same. The video is amazing too. Cheers!

    • Thank you Maitreni. I loved the video too and felt it was the perfect thing to share this Raksha Bandhan. Every small act builds on to something big and that was really the hope of this post and we really hope that things will build on this.

  4. It applies to all of us and there is no need to apologize for you are trying to make the world (India in the context) a better place to live.

    We all need to look at our actions and work towards improvement. Thank you, it might inspire somebody to improve!

    • True Alok, exactly why I did not want to escape from the common blame as well. Even I have chickened out at times when I realised that I had to act. That happens for a lot of reasons. But change has to happen and start somewhere. Acceptance is just a start and I realize that I am still a long long way from creating a stable solution.

  5. A thoughtprovoking post Vinay. It speaks a lot about he knot and the naughty too. If only (such) men understood their responsibilities, it would be a much more safe and loving earth for all.

    • Thank you Fayaz. The unfortunate part is that such people think that it is fun and find a moral rationalisation to convince themselves. It becomes a duty of the conscious others to step in at such times when the need is high.

  6. Thanks for highlighting this issue. The festival is for protection and safety of women. It is high time India becomes a better place to live, especially for women.

    • Thank you Kashpal. I am very happy to see the response on this post :). It is high time that we look at social equality and societal front as well. The development seems like a farfetched concept if we don’t focus on equality.