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This One Is Dedicated to My Siblings

August 25, 2010

Rakhi, or holy strings, to be tied to a brother's wrist

Yesterday we celebrated the Hindu festival of Rakhsha Bandhan, or Rakhi, as it’s more commonly called.  Rakhi celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters (including first cousins of the same generation.)  There are several legends about the origin of the holiday.  Today the holiday is usually celebrated by brothers and sisters exchanging rakhi (or red holy strings) and gifts, and having a family lunch.

We gathered at one of Amrit’s cousin’s homes, along with other family members, to celebrate the holiday.  There is a ritualized process to the exchanging of gifts and rakhi:

Both the brother and sister have their heads covered.

The sister applies a tilak, or a mark made out of red paste, to her brother’s forehead.

The sister then ties the rakhi to her brother’s wrist.

The brother and sister feed one another sweets, and the brother gives his sister a gift and vows to protect her.  By the end of the process, the brother (depending on how many sisters and female cousins he has) ends up with a wrist full of rakhi strings.

After all of the rakhi had been tied, we sat down to a nice big lunch.  And the talk turned, as it always seems to when the whole family gets together these days, to our wedding planning and preparation, which is both exciting and exhausting to think about.

While we were sitting and talking, though, one of Amrit’s cousins asked me if we have any holiday similar to rakhi in America; any sort of sibling day.  Sadly, no, we don’t.  We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, even Secretary’s Day, but no Sibling’s Day to celebrate our brothers and sisters.

So, my dear brother and sister, I would like to dedicate this post to you.  Happy Siblings Day.  I miss you both terribly, but can’t wait to see you (along with many more friends and family) in December when you come to India for the wedding!

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