The Thursday Post 20.12.12

Rakshabandhan is the festival of brothers and sisters; it does not have any mythological story but a very beautiful story of bonding beyond religion. Rajput Queen Karmavati tied this string on the wrist of Humayun, the Mughal emperor and made him her brother. Thus started this tradition- anyone who wants to claim a person as her brother ties this string on his wrist on mutual consent; and of course to their biological brothers, cousins etc. In return they promise to protect them. Rakshabandhan usually falls in the month of august.

If you visit any town, city of India during this time you will see small, big stalls on street side with rakhis hanging from strings- they are really beautiful small things- colourful, artistic. A lot of girls prepare these rakhis personally to tie in the wrists of their brothers, I once made a few, they looked quite pretty too- all you have to have is lot of patience! I mean lots of patience!!

In Bengal, the province where I live this festival is celebrated very mildly, we celebrate bhratridwitiya, after Kalipuja with gusto, the other difference is in place of tying a string we paste a teeka, phonta on the forehead of the brother, pray for his well being and give him a gala treat. (teeka or phonta is an elongated dot- it’s an inseparable part of Hinduism, its applied on the forehead of everyone that participates in pujas or myriad other rituals- the material differs, sometimes its vermillion, sometimes sandal, or other things)…. Those who don’t have a brother give phonta to friends but beware; once that teeka adorns your forehead if you are not a disgrace to humanity you will treat that girl, woman as your sibling. If you have hidden crush on someone and she calls you on this day just don’t show up! Show up after a week- because sometimes the date covers two simultaneous days.

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