How a thread tied around a brother’s wrist illustrates a bond of protection
By Vishani Ragobeer
A coloured thread tied around one’s wrist might not be the most stylish accessory. It would not tell the time as a watch would, nor would it add that bit of fashion to an outfit like jewellery would.
Yet, among Hindu brothers and sisters, that thread illustrates a profound bond. That thread- or amulet, for a more sophisticated label- is known as a Rakhi.
And, it is used on Raksha Bandhan (observed today August 21 in Guyana), an auspicious day celebrating the relationship of brothers and sisters. I
n Guyana, like elsewhere in the world, Raksha Bandhan is an annual observance. But in Guyana, the day is simply referred to as ‘Rakhi Day’.
Pandit Jagmohan Persaud, a local Hindu priest, says that on Raksha Bandhan, sisters of all ages tie the Rakhi around the wrist of their brothers.
This is meant to symbolise the love and affection they share for each other, but also that the brother is entrusted with protecting his sister.
“It is something that brothers ought to recognise,” Pandit Jagmohan explains.
“It is not simply to tie a thread or an amulet, because of the literal meaning of the two words.”
Translating literally from Sanskrit, Raksha means protection and Bandhan means bond. Put together, the Pandit says it is meant to connote a ‘bond of protection’.
Though sisters can tie this rakhi annually, a brother allowing his sister to tie the rakhi just once means that he pledges to undertake the responsibility of protecting her for life.
Because Rakhi day is a religious observance, in preparation for the day, the sister prepares a special thali (a brass or silver plate) with the rakhi, a lighted diya (small, earthen pot), flowers and often, some sweet meat.
Pandit Jagmohan explained that the sister would pray for her brother’s health and well-being and would honour him using religious practices. Then, she would feed him the sweet meat and tie the rakhi on his hand.
“Brothers reciprocate with a gift, but I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination you can ever repay your sister for the kindness and the love and affection they would have showered you with,” Pandit Jagmohan reasoned.
Essentially, this small, colourful thread tied around a brother’s hand is reflective of the bond the siblings share.
And, Pandit Jagmohan says, “It is a day to renew that commitment, you renew that obligation of standing by each other’s side and recognising your role that is pivotal not only for your personal growth, but the family’s growth.”
While Rakhi day is a special day for brothers and sisters, the Pandit opined that this observance is also microcosmic of how good relationships between one another can help to improve the society at large.
He contended that if each individual is cognisant of their duty towards each other, there can be greater understanding and empathy among people.
And that, he firmly believes, is crucial to promoting a harmonious society.