Brother-Sister Day (The Ordinary Moments)
Welcome back to The Ordinary Moments. Last Sunday it was Raksha Bandhan, which is an annual Indian festival that falls on the full moon day in August.Raksha Bandhan – or Rakhi – as it’s also known – means the bond of protection and celebrates the relationship between a brother and a sister. Each year, she will tie a thread around the wrist of her brother or someone she considers as a protector, wishing him a long and healthy life.He then gives her a gift, which is usually money. The gift symbolises a promise to his sister that he will always protect her. The tying of the Rakhi is a symbol of their attachment and is meant to strengthen their bond of love.
I’ve always loved Raksha Bandhan. As a child, my three sisters and I would dress up in a salwar kameez and tie a Rakhi on my dad. He always came first because he was our number one man – our brother, our father, our protector. Dad would then take us out to visit all of our boy cousins so we could tie a Rakhi on them.I remember my sisters and I counting all of our money at the end of the day. It’s not about the money for me now that I am older, but the significance of what that piece of thread means. In the innocence of childhood though, I would get really excited when the cash was handed over. My sisters and I would rush excitedly to the newsagents the next day to buy sweets and magazines.When Shivam was born, Shalini was really excited to tie a Rakhi on her baby brother. Of course, she had tied Rakhis on her boy cousins but there were only two of them at the time and she kept telling me how she wanted to tie more. She was probably thinking about the money as I did at that age!Buying a Rakhi is a big deal for Shalini and I. We make a real afternoon of it and spend ages choosing the brightest colours or latest designs.Rakhi rituals differ in each household but in mine, we start with an aarti. I light a candle and Shalini places the Rakhi she has chosen for Shivam on a tray.She then rotates this around Shivam’s face seven times. This signifies a sort of welcome, with seven considered a lucky number. The fire is considered a witness to the sacredness of the bond between brother and sister.Shalini then puts a red dot on Shivam’s forehead. This is called a tilak and can mean several things in Hinduism but for me, I’ve always liked a particular meaning; that it ‘opens’ the hidden third eye of wisdom.After this Shalini ties the Rakhi on Shivam’s wrist. She then feeds him a sweet. We used to use Indian sweets but in recent years, we’ve started buying chocolates instead.Shivam will then give her some money. Of course, I give the money to Shivam to give to Shalini. He insists on using his own pocket money but I’ve told him he can use his own cash when he’s much older!I look forward to Rakhi every year. This year it fell on my nephew’s wedding day and so it was a bit hectic and rushed but it was nice that everyone was so dressed up.I think it’s beautiful that there’s a festival celebrating siblings and the love they have for one another. Shalini and I are looking forward to next August already.
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