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Festivals - RAKSHA BANDHAN on 16th Aug


RAKSHA BANDHAN FALLS DURING THE MONTH OF SAWAN ON Purnima, i.e., the day of the full moon according to the Vikram calendar. As per the English calendar, this festival comes sometime in July or August. It heralds the arrival of the monsoon.Raksha Bandhan or Saluno represents one of the most sentimental festivals of India. It is based on the emotional ties that bind a brother and sister in a very close bond- the most sacred relationship of life, without any ulterior motive or demand of any kind- that nature has bestowed on mankind. A brother and a sister have shared similar joys and sorrows in the home and react in ways easily


understood by each other. The sharing can be so complete that no other relationship can compare with it, making Raksha Bandhan a day of festivity and pure joy.


Woman, having been regared as the weaker sex for ages past, had been dependent on one or the other male member of her family, and who else could she depend on for unstinted support but her brother? To symbolise this profoud relationship, the sister ties a rakhi on the right-hand wrist of all her brothers on this day and they acknowledge this relationship by accepting it with grace and love. With this rakhi, she bestows deep affection and blessings on her brothers so as to guard them against all harm, and prays to the Almighty to give the very best to them. These feeling are the ones that symbolise Raksha Bandhan. Gifts of money and/or other presents in kind given to a sister on this occasion are not of any consequence, but only a symbolic gesture. Still it is good to give such gifts.


Now we come to the celebrations at home, so as to bring about an atmosphere in keeping with the occasion. As is the custom for all festivals and pujas, the lady of the house dresses up early in the morning in fine clothes. All girls, whether married or not, wear clothes with a touch of zari and put a chonp on their foreheads. The lady of the house cleans and bathes the gods and the goddesses. The puja room is swept and cleaned with a wet cloth, and a chowk is laid out on the floor. (If the room is carpeted, one need not do this.)


The puja thaal- with water, roli aipun, rice, flowers, coconut, kalava, batashas, paans and rachis which have been received by post or brought in as teeka by sisters living in the same town-is placed before the gods. A rakhi should be tied onto or placed before the chief deity of the family. A daughter of the house must apply the teeka and tie the rachis on the wrists of the menfolk, if a sister is not present but has sent the rakhi and teeka to the brother's house.The unmarried daughter can perform the ceremony in the absence of her aunts or elder married sisters. The teeka is applied by the thumb on the forehead, along with roli, and then a little rice is stuck onto the roli. A small thaal should be arranged separately from the teeka thaal, with water, roli, aipun and rice, and passed around for everyone's convenience to do the individual pujan- first with water, then wuth aipun, then with roli and lastly with rice and flowers. This is done by dipping the third finger of the right hand in the liquids, and with the help of the thumb, sprinkling the contents onto the gods from afar- three times for each liquid. The dipping of the finger can be done once in each liquid but the spraying is done thrice, by holding the third finger by the thumb and then letting it go with a jerk. The rice is picked up and showered onto the gods. From the teeka thaal the sisters again put a teeka on the forehead of their brother, and then tie the rakhi. They also put some mithai in his mouth and bless him silently. However, if a brother is not present, a coconut is taken in the left hand a symbolic teeka put on its broader side.


The puja of Raksha Bandhan is performed in the morning as the family members disperse early for their places of work or study, it normally being a working day. The men hurry away with the rakhi and teeka intact, as it is a matter of pride to show that one is loved and cared for at home. If for some reason the puja cannot be arranged in the morning, then it can be done in the evening. Most of the boys really feel bad if no rakhi is tied onto their wrists, while others display half


an armful! Little kids going to school especially feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness if such attention has been paid to them. So, even if the puja has not been done in the morning, the rachis should be tied to the male members in any case.
The ones left behind sit down to hear the story told on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, which is usually narrated by the eldest lady of

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