Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raksha Bandhan Trivia and Assorted Memories

Today is a very important day in the Hindu calendar. It's the Shravana Pournima, which means the full moon day of the most auspicious month in the Hindu calendar - Shravana. Don't ask me why it's auspicious. It just is! :P Anyway, what this day means to ME is that the festival of Raksha Bandhan falls on this day. Raksha Bandhan is the festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters. So, naturally, I'm missing my two brothers a lot!! (To note: "brothers" means cousins. I don't have any bothers or sisters. But, back home, all cousins, even the far removed fourth, fifth or cousins by marriage cousins are brothers and sisters. We are like that relationships-wise. :P) Of course, I don't tie rakhi (a sacred thread that the sister ties on the brother's wrist praying for his long life) to all those hundreds of extended-family "brothers." But, both my first cousins are very very close to me and I tie them both rakhis.

Now, I generally miss home sometimes. You know, regular homesickness. And then, I'm all like yea but dude! I'm in England only for this year and then I'm ok again. But during festivals, this homesickness is multiplied 10 times and refuses to go away! I miss the colour, the noise, the fragrance of the festivities, the feel of cheer vibrating and tangible in the air, the activity in every household and the general feeling of goodwill everywhere around you. Of course, it doesn't help that India has so fucking many festivals that I feel this way at least once a month! :P Anyway, I decided instead of wallowing, I'll do something constructive today. And generally, my idea of "constructive in order to get rid of the depression" is cooking an Indian sweet. So, I decided to experiment and make some jalebis today. And, well, they taste alright but they look really weird since I didn't have the instrument which makes them fall in a perfect spiral. So, not a total failure! :P

But, today's constructive includes blogging about Raksha Bandhan. It is one of my most favourite festivals. (the others being Holi and Diwali, of course! :P) According to the legend, Goddess Yamuna (It's the name of a sacred river in India. She is also one of the manifestations of the female power in mythology.) tied a sacred thread around her brother, the God of Death, Yama's wrist and prayed for his immortality. He became immortal and in return promised to protect his sister. He proclaimed that whoever gets this sacred thread tied around their wrists by their sisters on this day will become immortal. And thus, began this festival. There are some other stories surrounding this festivals as well. But this was the one I was told in my childhood.

However, the most famous story told about Raksha Bandhan is the one from the 15th Century. Rani Karnavati, the Queen of Chittor sends a rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun to seek protection against another Sultan (a minor Mughal King) who was going to invade Chittor. The Emperor was so touched by this gesture that without thinking about the Hindu-Muslim divide, he went ahead to save Rani Karnavati and Chittor from invasion, leaving behind a battle that he was leading. So, it is the emotion of erasing the rampant communism currently prevalent in India, which makes this festival extra special for me.

One of the best things about Raksha Bandhan is the colour that the cities take on due to the stalls which crop up all over the place, full of different kinds of rakhis - right from the ones that cost 3 rupees to the ones that cost 100 rupees. Just like the Christmas lights and decorations, the Diwali rangolis and lanterns, the Holi colours, pichkaris and water balloons and the Eid late night food joints advertise the advent of each of the festivals and spread the festival merriment. One of my favourite Raksha Bandhan memories is when I was 11. That was the year, my younger cousin, the baby of our family was born and he was like a month or so old. Also, that year Raksha Bandhan was on 15th August, the Independence Day. And so, the auspicious day also being occasion-ful, our family decided to have his naming ceremony that day as well. I remember he was dressed up in a ridiculous red and white stripe thing with a baby cap on and he looked like a very chubby baby girl. I was so proud that day, being the eldest sister and all! Then, my aunt and I, both performed the naming ceremony together. I was literally bursting with excitement that day! And a few years ago, I and my other cousin, who is only 5 years younger to me, really started bonding a lot. Since that time, Raksha Bandhan means a lot more to me since I really value my relationship with him a lot more now than I used to before. As of this year, no such nostalgic, fond memory. But I do have a joke. :P Kyra and I were talking on phone and I was telling her how much I miss the festivities and all. And she said, "Yea, why don't you ask someone and tie them a rakhi? Jerome is cute! You could go ask him!" Now, it's common for us to "adopt" a brother or a sister. In fact, in schools, when everybody was being an asshole and linking you with the ugly boy/ the irritating sneezer, you would to use Raksha Bandhan as a shield and tie that boy the rakhi, "adopting" him as your brother just to shut everybody up. Anyway the same thing happens in the legend of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun, no? But what I didn't get was why would I want a cute boy who is unrelated to me adopt me as a SISTER?!! Heh, sometimes Kyra likes being funny! :P

*Pictures courtsey Google.


  1. For the jalebis, try a red plastic ketchup dispensing bottle (without the ketchup)..... it works wonders!

  2. Omg, yes!! Wow, that's a great advice yaar! Thanks so much! (and duh! Of course, without the ketchup!!! :P)