Greeted by the wettest July, here’s to the august beginning of a festival series that adds a magical chime to the hide-and-seek of sun and clouds in the gloomy sky. While the breeze is chilling out in the cool environs, the birds fly away in search of shelter.
Amidst this chill outside, our state of chill is chimed in by those lazy-cozy drives taking us to the nearby bazaars that are full of colorful bands, rakhis, the tri-color, Poojan samagri for shravan, fruits and peanuts for the fasting members in our family.
While we are busy shopping and rejoicing, our mind is busy contemplating a theme to welcome #Bappa home soon after August. After all, Bappa is our ultimate #vighnaharta who protects us from every problem.
But there’s still time for doing the kesar tilak of Bappa. So for now, we gear up to rejoice this Raksha Bandhan with some tri-color ties. After all, tying this holy knot-of-belief on 15th August couldn’t have been more special. Only after almost two decades (the last was in the year 2000) have we got this rare occasion of celebrating Raksha Bandhan and Independence Day together. Even the sweet marts are promoting their special tri-color pedas and barfis.
This amalgamation of two strong emotions teaches us something deeper. One, tying the knot of Raksha on #RakshaBandhan. And second, is to free ourselves from all the knots (bandhans) on #IndependenceDay.
We are all pure souls and need to work towards attaining independence from our bandhans in the form of ego, hurt, impatience & anger and be an individual full of love, care and respect. And this spirit needs to move beyond our brothers & sisters whom we are tied with the knot of protection. This will be a #PatrioticRakshaBandhan.
Unity in Diversity is the spirit that keeps this bandhan strong. Diverse are the ways of celebrating Raksha Bandhan in different Indian geographies but they are still united and tied up by the act of applying a tilak on the forehead and tying the holy knot on the wrist.
The Western coast comprising of Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat celebrates this bandhan festival to appease the God of Sea calling it as Nariyal Purnima.
While the brothers’ wrists are full of beautiful rakhi bands in this region, the celebration further extends to offering a coconut (The Shree Phal of India) to the Sea and praying the Sea God to protect the devotees from all the troubles and bless them with a prosperous year ahead. Rakhi or Nariyal Purnima also marks the advent of a new season for the fishermen to start going to the Sea after monsoon. This celebration is also witnessed in other parts of India like Karnataka dominated by the fishermen community.
On the other hand, the soil enriching community of Indian farmers celebrate rakhsha bandhan as Kajri Purnima as they pray to Mother Earth for a good fertile season ahead. This is witnessed mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Chattishgarh and partially Uttar Pradesh. Similar prayers are also offered to the God of Soil in some parts of Bihar and Jharkhand known as Shravani Purnima.
The style of celebration changes as we tour our India but the spirit of it all is inspired by deep faith in good monsoon (seasons are important in India) that leads to prosperity. What remains common across all celebration styles are three things – Akshat (rice symbolizes prosperity), Teekka (red, saffron or any other color symbolizes righteous thinking & deeds) and Nariyal (the water inside is considered sacred and pure).
Purity of love, righteous thoughts & action and praying for everyone’s prosperity is what guides the personification of Shravan Purnima, popularly known as Rakhsa Bandhan. This can be between a brother and sister, farmer and soil or fishermen and water.
Tying a rakhi symbolizes a pure bond-of-love and the bands carrying this bond come in various styles, again inspired by the diverse communities India is blessed with. Though millennials amazon or flipkart their rakhis, the bazaars have shops fully decorated with these colorful bands hanging all over. After all, going through various designs by touching them and choosing that special one for our brother has its own charm. #DIY (Do It Yourself) is also an in-thing, after all we live in an era of personalisation.
Though I have witnessed rakhi since 1980s, and way back in the era I remember it to be a big sized one, mostly created with sponge, golden foil and artificial flowers. Perhaps started with tying the religious cotton thread called mouli, has today gone through many innovations and has emerged as quite artistic and intricate. Years went by and what was originally liked as bigger-the-better has now become smaller & simpler-the-better. This is obviously in line with the changing consumer choices, evolving from Gen. X to Y and further evolving with the emergence of Gen Z.
What continues today is the use of some of the auspicious & popular symbols on rakhi like – Bappa and other Gods, peacock, flower, artificial pearl & rudraksh. Resham and zari threads are still seen. Embroidery, meenakari and kundan also exist. So, while we have the most stylish bracelets, musical rakhis, kids’ favourite paper quilling rakhis and to our surprise Feng Shui rakhis, the traditional ones also exist in full swing. After all, we are known for our #diversity tied with the values & emotions that remain as pure as ever.
Let’s get ready for the tri-color and a tri-occasion celebration on 15th August’19 – Independence Day, Raksha Bandhan and the spirit of Shrawan.