A slide show introducing the Hindu Festival of Raksha Bandhan. This is designed for RE teachers and Humanities departments. It can be combined with a practical art activity to design and make both Rakshis and Raksha Bandhan cards.
Raksha Bandhan A Hindu Festival when Brothers and Sistersstrengthen and celebrate their love and commitment to each other.
Raksha Bandhan• Rakhi: The Thread of Love• In India, festivals are the celebration of togetherness, of being one of the family.• Raksha Bandhan is one such festival that is all about affection, fraternity and other sacred and sublime sentiments.• This is an occasion to lavish love, care, affection and commitment towards each other and• To strengthen families and develop a sacred feeling of sisterly / brotherly devotion and oneness.
The Bond of Protection• At this festival, sisters tie a sacred thread called a Raksha or Rakhi around the wrist of their brother as part of a ‘Puja’ or service of worship.• What exactly is the power of this thread and what does Raksha Bandhan mean?• Raksha is the Sanskrit term for protection and Bandhan signifies a tie or relationship, so Raksha Bandhan in effect signifies a bond of protection between two people.
Protection• It is believed that when a woman ties a Rakhi to the wrist of a man on the festive day of Raksha Bandhan, he is then bound to protect and help her throughout his life. But the bond of protection is not a one way process. The Rakhi is thought to have a dual effect.• For the man the Rakhi ensures protection by the heavenly forces. In fact, during times of war, women have tied Rakhis to unknown soldiers so that they will be protected from harm, and so they will be victorious and successful in protecting the nation.
At Purnima (full moon)in the month of Shraavana(it usually falls in August)the shops fill with Rakhiand Greetings CardsSisters can buyReady-made‘Raki’butmany prefer tomake theirown.
How Raksha Bandhan is celebrated.• India is a vast country and the practises vary slightly from one part to another but this sacred thread is given as part of a ritual of worship. It is said that the small thread is stronger than an iron chain because it symbolises the unbreakable love that brother and sister feel for each other.• Preparations begin weeks before hand as the house is cleaned and both sisters and brothers may want to wear new clothes, so there is shopping to do – for clothes and cards and the Rakhi itself to buy or make. The brothers will be choosing or making presents to give their sisters too.• The sisters may have her hands decorated with Mendhi patterns.Mendhi patterns are popular for any special occasion.• As with most things, the more effort you put into preparation, the better the result is likely to be.
Practical Rituals of Raksha Bandhan• On the day of Raksha Bandhan, each sister will tie a raksha (rakhi in Hindi) on the right wrist of her brother(s).• Before that, she will perform the following rituals of puja because it is a sacred ceremony. Puja is an act of Hindu worship.• Some Hindus might describe the inner meaning of Raksha Bandhan as a pledge to each other made in the ‘sight’ or ‘presence of God’ blessed by God – as a way also of strengthening their own inner relationship with God and opening themselves to His Protection.• All the things needed for the ceremony are laid out on a tray beforehand.• A lamp or candle is lit. Incense sticks are lit, all making for an atmosphere of prayer and worship.• Puja often begins by ringing a bell or blowing a conch-shell trumpet.
Celebrating Raksha Bandhan continued • First the sister will make a mark on her brother’s forehead with a coloured powder called kumkum. This is usually made from powdered turmeric or saffron which is yellow. (If it is mixed with lime (an alkali) it gives a bright red colour. The shops sell powders of many other colours too.) • Kumkum is most often applied by Hindus to the forehead. The reason for this particular location has to do with the ancient Hindu teaching that “the human body is divided into seven vortices of energy, called chakras, beginning at the base of the spine and ending at the top of the head. • The sixth chakra, also known as the third eye, is centered in the forehead directly between the eyebrows and is the channel through which humankind opens spiritually to the Divine”. • Thus the kumkum is placed at the location of the body which Hindus believe to be the most holy and it reminds them that we have two outer eyes to see the outer physical world, but there is another world – the inner spiritual world – which is also important. We need to open our inner eye to see that.
Celebrating Raksha Bandhan – continued - • In some families, the sister then places a flower garland around her brother’s neck, a garland which she will probably have made herself (girls who are old enough to use a needle and thread). You can buy flowers to use to make the garlands, in the market. • The sister then may take the lamp or candle which is usually placed on a tray used for worship – and circle this in front of her brother. The candle-flame represents God’s Light and human aspiration - the way our inner cry reaches up towards God in prayer. • The flame also symbolises Agni, the Fire God who is invoked during most ceremonies of worship in Hinduism. The sister may sing a special puja song at that time. But since many of the sisters are quite young children, not old enough to handle candles and incense safely or know the puja songs, this part is not always carried out. • Next is the most important part of the puja. The sister ties the rakhi on her brother’s right wrist. • Finally, the sister feeds her brother – usually placing a whole sweet in his mouth.
Celebrating Raksha Bandhan – continued -• A brother may place his hand on his sister’s head which is a way of giving blessings and conveying the deepest love and respect – a symbolic gesture to show he appreciates the significance of the event and he really will be there for his sister should she ever need his help.• Then, in In return for his sister’s devotion, the brother presents a gift to his sister.• Later that day the whole family celebrate together. They may go to visit- or welcome visiting– relatives and end the day with a party or a special meal. • There is usually a great atmosphere of joy, oneness, friendship and love.• This exchange of Raksha Bandhan’s is not restricted to sister and brother. It represents a bond and a relationship so it may be celebrated to strengthen (brotherly rather than romantic) friendships, too.
We would like to ackowledgeand thank the many online sources viewed in preparing this resource, especiallythe websitehttp://www.raksha-bandhan.com I hope that all whose photographs have been used will be happy and proud to be included in this free resource - but should any copyright questions arise we will behappy to make any adjustments necessary.
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