The Rakhrhi is not Sikh ritual, It's practice does not fit sikh philosphy
Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection in Hindi, Punjabi, Oriya, Assamese and most other Indian languages) is a Hindu festival, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Shraavana (Shravan Poornima).
The festival is marked by the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her as she presents sweets to her brother. The brother and sister traditionally feed one another sweets. It is not necessary that the rakhi be given only to a blood brother; any male can be "adopted" as a brother by tying a rakhi on the person, that is "blood brothers and sisters", whether they are cousins or a good friend. Indian history is replete with women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers, nor Hindus themselves.
No Place in Sikhism
- A thread is just an illusion
- ignorantly been accepted in Sikh culture
- Festivals like these are beautiful, no doubt, but in Sikhi, what we do – or do not do – is sanctioned only by the Guru.
- The Guru, who rejected the spiritual thread that the Hindu Brahmins consider makes them connected to God, in the midst of all the learned Pandits, Brahmins and his own father, would that same Guru accept the far more earthy thread called a ‘rakhi’?
- The picture in the article is against the Guru’s own philosophy
- There’s no harm in doing any of these things, but our Guru just did not approve them for his Sikhs.
- Why would a Khalsa Kaur ever need anyone’s protection when they have the power within them to defend themselves? That is why if the Singh was given a Kirpan, so was a Kaur granted the same. So Rakhrhi Gives Secondrate status to the women.
- what of those who have no brothers? Who will protect them? What of those who have no sisters, who will pray for their long life and wellbeing? It’s all out of logic for Sikhs.
Let's read the following
As the festival of Raksha Bandhan approaches each year, it’s no longer strange to see Sikhs lining up to purchase these threads to tie on the wrists of their brothers and fathers, in return for blessings and gifts. What was originally a Hindu festival has been ignorantly been accepted in Sikh culture, without prior thought to what it is all about and why our Gurus would never support it. Instead, Manmat has only taken lead, with the explanation that it is the day dedicated to the bond of a brother and sister, and an excuse to pamper each other.
According to the Hindus, this is how the day is marked, ‘As per the traditions, the sister on this day prepares the pooja thali with diya, roli, chawal and rakhis. She worships the deities, ties Rakhi to the brother(s) and wishes for their well being. The brother in turn acknowledges the love with a promise to be by the sisters’ side through the thick and thin and gives her a token gift.’
Festivals like these are beautiful, no doubt, but in Sikhi, what we do – or do not do – is sanctioned only by the Guru. Nowhere in Sikh history has any Sikh Guru known to have accepted this Hindu custom. In a painting I came across on a website, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is being depicted to have a raakhi being tied on his wrist by his sister Bebe Nanaki. This is nothing more than a work of fiction.
The Guru, who rejected the spiritual thread that the Hindu Brahmins consider makes them connected to God, in the midst of all the learned Pandits, Brahmins and his own father, would that same Guru accept the far more earthy thread called a ‘rakhi’? It’s plain logic, he wouldn’t. When asked by his father to go forth and make a profitable bargain in business, young Nanak came back having spent all his given money on feeding starving fakirs. If Nanak could challenge the Brahmins and reject outright the janeu, would he want to contradict himself by accepting another thread? The painting above may have been done by a devotee of the Guru and was only imagining the love between a brother and a sister, but didn’t realise that it is against the Guru’s own philosophy. If the Guru’s life is studied closely, and compared with his hymns, one can deduce for oneself whether the Guru would say something and preach something else. Likewise, no other Sikh Guru subscribed to the rakhsha bandhan ceremony, it was just not a Sikh practice, be it religious or cultural.
‘So what’s the harm in commemorating the day?’, is the usual counter-arguement of those Sikhs that accept the practice. There’s no harm in doing any of these things, but our Guru just did not approve them for his Sikhs. He’s taken us out of all the clutter of all those things that have no meaning in Sikhi and have instructed us to focus more on God than on worldly funfairs that eventually take the mortal away from God. The heritage of the Sikhs is so unique, that the men and women have been given an equal status.
Why would a Khalsa Kaur ever need anyone’s protection when they have the power within them to defend themselves? That is why if the Singh was given a Kirpan, so was a Kaur granted the same. When the 40 Sikhs abandoned the Guru in his time of need, their wives took away their mens’ weapons and horses and left their husbands home to take their place. It was a proof of the might of the Guru’s daughters – that they are as mighty, or even mightier, than men. ‘Truth is high,’ Guru Nanak Dev Ji said and, further added, ‘but higher still is truthful living.’ So how can a mere thread prove the love between a brother and sister. Will that thread not wear out too, just like the janeu?
Sikhs were blessed with the roop of the Guru so that they may emulate their example of life and living which would connect us to Waheguru. Ceremonies like rakhsha bandhan are good for those for whom it was made, for the Hindu faith has it’s own valid reasons. Sikhi is a completely distinct faith. And how? Guru Nanak did not accept the janeu; he rejected the offering of water to his ancestors; he did not recite the Hindu Vedas; nor prayed to the 330 million gods, but contemplated only on the SHABAD what was revealed to Him from the Court of the Lord. Likewise, the other Sikh Gurus further developed what Guru Nanak preached, they never contradicted Nanak’s message and way of life.
In conclusion, while the ceremony is a beautiful one, it simply has not place in Sikhi because it is not higher than the Sikh way of life. The simple thread that is meant as a prayer to protect a sister and to seek the blessings of the brother’s long life and wellbeing, is not any higher than believing that it is Akaal Purakh that protects and blesses His beings. A thread is just an illusion, a Sikh of the Guru has no need for it to be reminded of his duty to the world, otherwise our Gurus would have allowed us to adopt it. And what of those who have no brothers? Who will protect them? What of those who have no sisters, who will pray for their long life and wellbeing? It’s all out of logic for Sikhs.
Rakhsha Bandhan is good for the Hindus, the Sikhs have their own beautiful way of life, made as simple as it could ever have been so that we can connect more to the Divine, and detatch more from the illusionary world.
- The Sikh Faith by Gurbaksh Singh (SGPC)
A rakhi being tied during Raksha Bandhan
|Official name||Raksha Bandhan.|
|Also called||Rakhi, Saluno, Silono, Rakri|
|Type||Religious, cultural, secular|
|Date||Purnima (full moon) of Shrawan|
|2017 date||Monday, 7 August (Friday, 28 July in Nepal)|
|2018 date||Sunday, 26 August|
|Related to||Bhai Duj, Bhai Tika, Sama Chakeva|
Raksha Bandhan, also Rakshabandhan, or simply Rakhi, is an annual rite performed in the Indian subcontinent, or by people originating from the Indian subcontinent, and centred around the tying of a thread, talisman, or amulet on the wrist as a form of ritual protection. The protection is offered principally by sisters to brothers, but also by priests to patrons, and sometimes by individuals to real or potential benefactors. Differing versions of the rite have been traditionally performed by Hindus in northern India, western India,Nepal, and former colonies of the British Empire to which Hindus had emigrated from India in the 19th-century, and have included, in addition, rites with names rendered as Saluno,Silono, and Rakri. The rituals associated with these rites, however, have spread beyond their traditional regions and have been transformed through technology and migration, the movies, social interaction, and promotion by politicized Hinduism, as well as by the nation state.
Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shraavana, which typically falls in August. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, ritually protecting their brothers, receiving a gift from them in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care. The expression "Raksha Bandhan," Sanskrit, literally, "the bond of protection, obligation, or care," is now principally applied to this ritual. It has also applied to a similar ritual in which a domestic priest ties amulets, charms, or threads on the wrists of his patrons and receives gifts of money. A ritual associated with Saluno includes the sisters placing shoots of barley behind the ears of their brothers.
Of special significance to married women, Raksha Bandhan is rooted in the practice of territorial exogamy, in which a bride marries out of her natal village or town, and her parents, by custom, do not visit her in her married home. In rural north India, where territorial exogamy is strongly prevalent, large numbers of married Hindu women travel back to their parents' homes every year for the ceremony. Their brothers, who typically live with the parents or nearby, sometimes travel to their sisters' married home to escort them back. Many younger married women arrive a few weeks earlier at their natal homes and stay until the ceremony. The brothers serve as lifelong intermediaries between their sisters' married- and parental homes, as well as potential stewards of their security. In urban India, where families are increasingly nuclear, and marriages not always traditional, the festival has become more symbolic, but continues to be highly popular.
Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgement of their benefaction. Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated by Hindu communities in other parts of the world. Although rooted in Hindu culture, the festival has no traditional prayers unambiguously associated with it. The religious myths claimed for it are disputed, and the historical stories associated with it considered apocryphal by some historians. More recently, after enactment of more gender-neutral inheritance laws in India, it has been suggested that in some communities the festival has seen a resurgence of celebration, which is serving to indirectly pressure women to abstain from fully claiming their inheritance.
According to R. S. McGregor's Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, 1993, the name of the festival, the masculine Hindi noun rakśābandhan is composed of the Sanskrit loanword rakśā, a feminine noun, which means, "protection," "preservation," or "care." and a second Sanskrit loanword bandhan, a masculine noun, which means "fastening," or "tying together." According to V. S. Apte's Revised Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 1957–1959, रक्षा pronounced rakṣā means, "protection," "preservation," or "guarding;"बन्धन pronounced, "bandhana," means "The act of binding, fastening, tying."
According to McGregor, the Hindi feminine noun, rākhī, (which is compared etymologically to rakśā described above) is a "protective talisman: a piece of thread etc., with a rosette, tied ceremoniously round a protector or patron's wrist on the full moon of the month Srāvan: especially by a sister round a brother's wrist, when the brother gives a small gift of money." In contrast, Apte defines one of the secondary meaning of रक्षा (rakṣā) to be: "A piece of silk or thread fastened round the wrist on particular occasions, especially on the full-moon day of Śrāvaṇa, as an amulet or preservative; (रक्षी (rakṣī) also in this sense).
According to Jack Goody, rakśābandhan is "cognate with the Sanskrit name for marriage, saṃbandhan, where the common element bandhan (Sanskrit: bandhá) refers to the act of tying. The ceremonies are complementary. Marriage (sam, reciprocally) ties spouses; rakśābandhan ties brother and sister."
Scholars who have written about the ritual, have usually described the traditional region of its observance as north India; however, also included are: central India, western India and Nepal, as well other regions of India, and overseas Hindu communities such as in Fiji. Anthropologist Jack Goody, whose field study was conducted in Nandol, in Gujarat, describes Rakshabandhan as an "annual ceremony ... of northern and western India." Anthropologist Michael Jackson, writes, "While traditional North Indian families do not have a Father's or Mother's Day, or even the equivalent of Valentine's Day, there is a Sister's Day, called Raksha Bandhan, ..." Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton describes it as "primarily a North Indian festival." Leona M. Anderson and Pamela D. Young describe it as "one of the most popular festivals of North India." Anthropologist David G. Mandelbaum has described it as "an annual rite observed in northern and western India." Other descriptions of primary regions are of development economist Bina Agarwal ("In Northern India and Nepal this is ritualized in festivals such as raksha-bandhan."), scholar and activist Ruth Vanita ("a festival widely celebrated in north India."), anthropologist James D. Faubion ("In north India this brother-sister relationship is formalized in the ceremony of 'Rakshabandhan.'"), and social scientist Prem Chowdhry ("... in the noticeable revival of the Raksha Bandhan festival and the renewed sanctity is has claimed in North India.").
Anthropologist McKim Marriott in his "Little Communities in an Indigenous Civilization," (1955) describes an "Indian-wide" tradition of Rakhi-bandhan, or Raksha-bandhan, in which a priest ties charms around their patrons' wrists and receives gifts of money, and a local tradition of Saluno in Aligarh district of North India in which sisters place ears of sacred grains on the heads and behind the ears of their brother in affirmation of the brother's role as their real or potential protector. Marriott's work also describes the field study of anthropologist Alan R. Beals in Namhalli, a village near Bangalore, who notes changes in the rakhi tradition brought on by modern technology.
While Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent, different regions mark the day in different ways.
In the state of West Bengal and Odisha, this day is also called Jhulan Purnima. Prayers and puja of Lord Krishna and Radha are performed there. Sisters tie rakhi to brothers and wish immortality. Political parties, offices, friends, schools to colleges, street to palace celebrate this day with a new hope for a good relationship.
In Maharashtra, the festival of Raksha Bandhan is celebrated along with Narali Poornima (coconut day festival). Kolis are the fishermen community of the coastal state. The fishermen offer prayers to Lord Varuna, the Hindu god of Sea, to invoke his blessings. As part of the rituals, coconuts were thrown into the sea as offerings to Lord Varuna. The girls and women tie rakhi on their brother's wrist, as elsewhere.
In the regions of North India, mostly Jammu, it is a common practice to fly kites on the nearby occasions of Janamashtami and Raksha Bandhan. It's not unusual to see the sky filled with kites of all shapes and sizes, on and around these two dates. The locals buy kilometres of strong kite string, commonly called as "gattu door" in the local language, along with a multitude of kites.
In Haryana, in addition to celebrating Raksha Bandhan, people observe the festival of Salono. Salono is celebrated by priests solemnly tying amulets against evil on people's wrists. As elsewhere, sisters tie threads on brothers with prayers for their well being, and the brothers give her gifts promising to safeguard her.
In Nepal, Raksha Bandhan is referred to as Janai Purnima or Rishitarpani, and involves a sacred thread ceremony. It is observed by both Hindus and Buddhists of Nepal. The Hindu men change the thread they wear around their chests (janai), while in some parts of Nepal girls and women tie rakhi on their brother's wrists. The Raksha Bandhan-like brother sister festival is observed by other Hindus of Nepal during one of the days of the Tihar (or Diwali) festival.
The festival is observed by the Shaiva Hindus, and is popularly known in Newar community as Gunhu Punhi.
Myths and legends
The scriptures, epics of Hinduism is peppered with stories of rakhi and Raksha Bandhan. Some of these include:
According to Bhavishya Purana, in the war between Gods and demons, Indra – the deity of sky, rains and thunderbolts – was disgraced by the powerful demon King Bali. Indra’s wife Sachi consulted Vishnu, who gave her a bracelet made of cotton thread, calling it holy. Sachi tied the holy thread around Indra wrist, blessed with her prayers for his well being and success. Indra successfully defeated the Bali and recovered Amaravati. This story inspired the protective power of holy thread. The story also suggests that the Raksha Bandhan thread in ancient India were amulets, used by women as prayers and to guard men going to war, and that these threads were not limited to sister-brother like relationships.
King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi
According to Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, after Vishnu won the three worlds from the demon King Bali, Bali asked Vishnu to stay with him in his palace, a request Vishnu granted. Vishnu's wife, Goddess Lakshmi did not like the palace or his new found friendship with Bali, and preferred that her husband and she return to Vaikuntha. So she went to Bali, tied a rakhi and made him a brother to her. Bali asked her what gift she desired. Lakshmi asked that Vishnu be freed from the request that he live in Bali's palace. Bali consented, as well accepted her as his sister.
Ganesha had two sons, Shubha and Labha. The two boys become frustrated that they have no sister to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with. They ask their father Ganesha for a sister, but to no avail. Finally, saint Narada appears who persuades Ganesha that a daughter will enrich him as well as his sons. Ganesha agreed, and created a daughter named Santoshi Maa by divine flames that emerged from Ganesh's wives, Riddhi (Amazing) and Siddhi (Perfection). Thereafter, Shubha Labha (literally "Holy Profit") had a sister named Santoshi Maa (literally "Goddess of Satisfaction"), to tie Rakhi over Raksha Bandhan.
Krishna and Draupadi
In the epic Mahabharat, Draupadi tied a rakhi on Krishna, while Kunti tied her rakhi on her grandson Abhimanyu, before the great war.
Yama and the Yamuna
According to another legend, Yama, the god of Death, had not visited his sister Yamuna for 12 years. Yamuna was sad and consulted Ganga. Ganga reminded Yama of his sister, upon which Yama visits her. Yamuna was overjoyed to see her brother, and prepared a bounty of food for Yama. The god Yama was delighted, and asked Yamuna what she wanted for a gift. She wished that he, her brother should return and see her again soon. Yama was moved by his sister's love, agreed and to be able to see her again, and made river Yamuna immortal. This legend is the basis for a Raksha Bandhan-like festival called Bhai Duj in some parts of India, which also celebrates brother-sister love, but near Diwali.
Raksha Bandhan is an ancient festival of the Indian subcontinent, and its history dates back thousands of years.
Alexander the Great and King Puru
According to one legendary narrative, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE, Roxana (or Roshanak, his wife) sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, the king of Kaikeya kingdom, gave full respect to the rakhi. In the Battle of the Hydaspes, when Porus saw the rakhi on his own wrist and restrained himself from attacking Alexander personally.
Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun
Another controversial historical account is that of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal EmperorHumayun, which dates to 1535 CE. When Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of the king of Chittor, realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor, according to one version of the story, set off with his troops to defend Chittor. He arrived too late, and Bahadur Shah had already captured the Rani's fortress. Alternative accounts from the period, including those by historians in Humayun's Mughal court, do not mention the rakhi episode and some historians have expressed skepticism whether it ever happened. Humayun's own memoirs never mention this, and give different reasons for his war with Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535.
This is the story included by Letitia Elizabeth Landon in her long poem The Zenana within Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1834.
Muslim commentators in modern era publications mention this story as evidence of Muslim-Hindu communal ties in the past.
Rabindranath Tagore and the Bengal partition of 1905
Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel Laureate for literature, invoked Raksha Bandhan and rakhi as concepts to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims during India's colonial era. In 1905, the British empire divided Bengal, a province of British India on the basis of religion. Rabindra Nath Tagore arranged a ceremony to celebrate Raksha Bandhan to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between Hindus and Muslims of Bengal, and urge them to together protest the British empire. He used the idea of Raksha Bandhan to spread the feeling of brotherhood. In 1911, British colonial empire reversed the partition and unified Bengal, a unification that was opposed by Muslims of Bengal. Ultimately, Tagore's Raksha Bandhan-based appeals were unsuccessful. Bengal not only was split during the colonial era, one part became modern Bangladesh and predominantly Muslim country, the other a largely Hindu Indian state of West Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore started Rakhi Mahotsavas as a symbol of Bengal unity, and as a larger community festival of harmony. In parts of West Bengal, his tradition continues as people tie rakhis to their neighbors and close friends.
One of Tagore's poem invoking rakhi is:
The love in my body and heart
For the earth's shadow and light
Has stayed over years.
With its cares and its hope it has thrown
A language of its own
Into blue skies.
It lives in my joys and glooms
In the spring night's buds and blooms
Like a Rakhi-band
On the Future's hand.
In the 18th century, states Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair, Sikh Khalsa armies introduced the term Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) as a promise of protection to farmers from Muslim armies such as those of the Mughals and Afghans, in exchange for sharing a small cut of their produce.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the founder and ruler of the Sikh Empire, and he observed Raksha Bandhan festival. His wife Maharani Jindan sent a Rakhi to the ruler of Nepal, who accepted her as sister and gave her refuge in the Hindu kingdom of Nepal in 1849 after the collapse of the Sikh Empire and annexation of its territories by the British.
Sikhs have observed Raksha Bandhan festival, and has sometimes been referred to as Rakhardi (literally, wristband) or Rakhari in historic Sikh texts. Like the Hindu tradition, the festival has involved the tying of the rakhi and giving of gifts. An annual fair is held on Raksha Bandhan at Baba Bakala in Amritsar district.
Multi-culturalism and activism
Some Muslims in India view it a secular, multicultural festival. Raksha bandhan has also been adopted by the Christian community in India who view it as a festival of historical and social importance.
In 2015, men tied rakhis on women seeking protection from the ‘misuse’ of section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. "Society has gone through massive changes in the last few decades and men are now considered on the same platform with women. Why should laws show a discrimination against them?" asked Amartya Talukdar, founder member of Hridaya, an NGO working for gender neutrality.
- ^McGregor, Ronald Stuart (1993), The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-563846-2 Quote: m Hindi rakśābandhan held on the full moon of the month of Savan, when sisters tie a talisman (rakhi q.v.) on the arm of their brothers and receive small gifts of money from them.
- ^Prasad, Leela (2012), "Anklets on the pyal", in Leela Prasad; Ruth B. Bottigheimer; Lalita Handoo, Gender and Story in South India, SUNY Press, p. 9, ISBN 978-0-7914-8125-7 Quote: While women-centered narratives cherish brotherly love, heroism, and chivalry (celebrated in festivals like nagapanchami in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and rakshabandhan in north India), they are all too aware of the fragility of sibling ties.
- ^Anderson, Leona May; Young, Pamela Dickey (2004), Women and Religious Traditions, Oxford University Press, pp. 30–31, ISBN 978-0-19-541754-8 Quote: "One of the most popular festivals in North India is the festival of Raksabandhana, observed in July or August.
- ^Gokulsing, K. Moti; Dissanayake, Wimal, eds. (2009), Popular Culture in a Globalised India, Routledge, p. xix, ISBN 978-1-134-02307-3 Quote: Glossary and acronyms: Raksha Bandhan: A popular Hindu festival of north India where sister ties a thread on brother's wrist, seeking protection. (page xix)"
- ^Goody, Jack (1990), The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive: Systems of Marriage and the Family in the Pre-Industrial Societies of Eurasia, Cambridge University Press, p. 222, ISBN 978-0-521-36761-5 Quote: "That relation is celebrated and epitomised in the annual ceremony of Rakshābandhan in northern and western India,"
- ^Agarwal, Bina (1994), A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia, Cambridge University Press, p. 264, ISBN 978-0-521-42926-9 Quote: "Brothers (even younger ones), and natal kin in general, are seen as women's potential protectors. In northern India and Nepal, this is ritualized in festivals such as raksha-bandhan (literally the tie of protection) and symbolized by sisters tying a thread (rakhi) on the brother's wrist.
- ^ abcMarriott, McKim (1955), "Little Communities in an Indigenous Civilization", in McKim Marriott, Village India: Studies in the Little Community, University of Chicago Press, pp. 198–202
- ^Wadley, Susan S. (27 July 1994), Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925-1984, University of California Press, pp. 84, 202, ISBN 978-0-520-91433-9