Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 29th 2015 Contents A36
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Raksha Bandhan, an annual Hindu festival, is
being celebrated today. The festival, according
to one spiritual leader, "celebrates the universal
bond of Hindus where we look out for and con-
sider each other as one."
"We celebrate universal brotherhood by tying
the cord of protection" said Pandit Ramesh
Kissoon, spiritual leader of the La Plaisance Road
Hindu Mandir, La Romaine. He noted, "While it is
popular for sisters to tie the rakhi (a cotton thread
which is decorated) for brothers on Raksha Band-
han here in Trinidad, the rakhi can be tied for any-
one (for protection). Raksha Bandhan is
sometimes confused with Bhai Dooj, which is one
of the five days of Divali." It is believed that broth-
ers and sisters celebrate Bhai Dooj to attain salva-
tion and go to heaven after their death.
Still, the tradition of tying the sacred rakhi for
one's brother on Raksha Bandhan is quite popular
here in Trinidad and Tobago. Rakhis, which are be-
coming more fashionable, are sold at puja stores
and other variety stores throughout the country.
There are many stories surrounding the tying of
the rakhi. According to the site
http://www.rediff.com "...when Alexander the
Great invaded India in 326 BC, his wife, Roxana
sent Porus, a sacred thread and asked him not to
harm her husband on the battlefield. Honouring
the request, when he confronts Alexander, he re-
fuses to kill him. Eventually, Porus would lose the
battle of the Hydaspes River but would gain
Alexander's respect and honour. Eventually, after
his death, Porus would become a very loyal Mace-
Another story related on the site speaks of Lord
Krishna and Draupadi (the wife of the five Pan-
davas). It states, "An incident in their lives finds a
mention amongst the various stories of the Ma-
habharata. According to one version on a
Sankranti day, Krishna managed to cut his little
finger while handling sugarcane. Rukmini, his
queen, immediately sent her help to get a bandage
cloth while Sathyabama, his other consort rushed
to bring some cloth herself. Draupadi who was
watching all of this rather simply tore off a part of
her sari and bandaged his finger. In return for this
deed, Krishna promised to protect her in time of
distress. The word he is said to have uttered is 'Ak-
shyam' which was a boon: 'May it be unending'.
And that was how Draupadi's sari became endless
and saved her embarrassment on the day she was
disrobed in full public view in king Dritarashtra's
Another site, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com
states that history is replete with examples where
brothers died in defence of their sisters' honour.
The website also states, "The religious aspect of
Raksha Bandhan is a promise by a brother for the
protection of a sister. This is done to the extent of
defending her honour even at the expense of his
life. Here, the sister shows respect to the brother
in the form of adoration or worship. The sacred
thread or Rakhi, tied on a brother's wrist by the af-
fectionate sister, is the ceremonial expression of
her pious hope and wish that her brother be
guided by spiritual vision."
So how is the rakhi tied? According to Pandit
Kissoon, "In a thali (brass plate used for puja) place
some sindoor, haldi and rice. Take all three and
place a tilak (a mark or dot) on the brother's fore-
head. The rakhi should then be tied on his right
wrist. Aarti (performed using a deya with a wick
that is soaked with oil or ghee from the filled deya
- the wick is then lit) should be performed for him.
When aarti is done a piece of sweet is then fed to
him." Sweets such as ladoo, barfi and kurma are
commonly used. The brother usually gives his sis-
ter presents or a token of his affection.
When sisters tie the rakhi on the brothers' hand,
they pray for their brothers' long life and that he
may always protect her and take care of her. The
brother in return, gives his commitment to take
care of his sister.
"Whether it is confused with Bhai Dooj or not"
said the spiritual leader, "both days hold very special
meanings and it is important that we do not forget
at any moment what that rakhi around someone's
wrist represents. We cannot so lovingly tie a rakhi
when we are young and as we grow older we forget
the responsibility to protect. Sometimes we even
squabble for material wealth forgetting the strug-
gles we had as brothers and sisters in childhood. Let
us not forget the universal brotherhood and our
commitment to protect and respect each other."
Kissoon will host Raksha Bandhan celebrations at
the La Plaisance Road Hindu Mandir, La Romaine
from 6:30pm today.
By Bavina Sookdeo
Lakshmi Kissoon ties a rakhi for her brother,
Pandit Ramesh Kissoon, for Raksha Bandhan.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 29, 2015
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