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RAKSHA BANDHAN – A celebration and jubilation of Love between brothers and sisters

God is the Father of us all and so we are brothers and sisters. On the sacred occasion of Raksha Bandhan, I regard all females of all ages and lands as our sisters and all males as our brothers. Even our students and spouses today soar to the status of brothers and sisters. Down the years of my experience, I have always observed men and women as symbols of love, protection and service for each other, transcending our narrow domestic walls such as caste, creed, colour, and, geographical boundaries etc., barring a handful of isolated cases.

 I firmly believe our sisters are endowed with such divine powers that by the spell of their love, good will and prayers, men gain super heights in life and perform great feats.  On the other hand, as a gesture of reciprocity, we, their brothers pledge to protect the dignity and honour of our sisters - so indispensable for our balanced and harmonious life. Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the love and relationship of brothers and sisters and an occasion to renew and reaffirm our trust and good will to each other.

Our history and legends are full of records and stories, which testify that by mutual love and respect to each other, men and women can perform miracles. That’s why the adage stands: There is a woman behind the success of every man. Evidences of mythical occurrences of Raksha Bandhan had been found in the Mahabharata. Draupadi tied a strip of her silk sari on Krishna’s hand so as to protect him from bleeding out of battlefield wounds. Krishna thereby declared Draupadi as his sister and promised to be her protector. That was the start of this festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.

 According to some texts, Yama the God of Death, and his sister Yamuna, observed the Rakhi Bandhan ritual. Yamuna had tied a rakhi on Lord Yama’s wrist and blessed him with immortality. Yama was so moved by the love he received that he declared that if any sister tied a rakhi on her brother’s wrist, he would gain immortality and she would be protected by him. It is believed that the Rakhi possesses some mystical powers that bring about fortunes when it is tied with faith and devotion.
‘Raksha Bandhan’, literally ‘a knot of protection’ is a rich practice triggers a surge of emotion in me to celebrate the auspicious occasion. This humble write-up is my tribute to the wonderful day, 7 August, 2017.

 The celebration is embellished and enlivened with colourful sacred threads on the wrists of brothers and sisters, besides music, exchange of hugs, presenting gifts to each other, sharing sweets and delicacies and other gestures of love and good will to each other.  Sisters tie colourful sacred threads on the brothers’ wrists with prayer and good will for their brothers’ safe, healthy and prosperous life. And, brothers follow suit by pledging the protection, safety, honour and dignity of the sisters. On this great day, I submit my prayer and good will for the health, happiness, prosperity and dignified lives of our sisters in all lands, and pledge to extend my humble hands in their needs and services. On this auspicious occasion, I remember hosts of sisters, whose selfless and compassionate love and good will ennobled me and made a difference in my life. The sweet memories of the divine sisters’ love are today more nourishing and more uplifting than ever before.

Among hundreds, here I mention a few names whose love, support and services nourished my existence and their loving memories still provides me strength and inspiration: Marry Campbell, California, a stranger in whose kindness and gentility I felt sublimated. Miss Jean Mc Neil, Leicester, England, every morning for two years reenergized me with her sisterly love and affection. I still cherish the memory of the love-laden dinner she had offered at her house at Tsebar, Bhutan. Ms. Tessa Goldsmith, England, is no more, but her love still resides in me feeding my soul. I remember Jechhen Langzom, a student of Class Six, who had carried a bundle of mustard green taking several hours’ of arduous walk from Dungmin to Tsebar to express her love and devotion to her teacher. The memory of the splendid meal that was cooked and served by Cheten Zangmo, on my final departure from Tsebar Primary School to Nangkor still exhilarates me. It was one of the finest meals I have ever had, for it was an expression of profound love and devotion of a student to a teacher. Besides,  Madam Yanki Dem, Principal, Nangkor Higher Secondary School in 1999, invited all the teachers of the school to her house on an occasion, to serve dinner with her compassionate hands in profound love and good will. The memory of the dinner still re-energizes me. I cannot forget Madam Karma Choki (1997), who so generously prepared delicious snacks for all the staff of the school for several months and served us as a gesture of her good will and support to the school family in our needs.

 I only wish and pray that we become worthy brothers of such noble sisters. The Rakhi celebration reminds me of my dear sister Tshering Pem, CHPC, who at her own initiative along with her husband Ugyen Needup carried me in their own vehicle to the best surgeon in Thimphu, Dr. Lotay, during my sickness in 2011.To me such sisters’ love is the direct touch of God. I remember how engineer Madam Karma Palden and Principal Madam Deki Choden extended their kind hands and rehabilitated me and my family in 2008 at Chukha, when we were devastated at the loss our house and a truck of luggage. Instances such as these are plenty when n I received loving support and services of our sisters. The stories may make a voluminous book. The long list of such sisters includes Madam Kencho Lham, Madam Rita Chhetri, Madam Deki Peldon, Madam Dawa Pem, Madam Karma Wangmo, Madam Nima Yangzom, Madam Dawa Choden, Champa Keshi, Sumitra Barman, Purnima Paul, Karma Yangden, Sabina Nepal, Dechen Choki, and many more. I wish I could write to all of them on this auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan. I am so much grateful to them. I remember the unfathomable love of our dear students, whose faces today shine before my eyes.

May the spirit of the celebration of Raksha Bandhan strengthen the bond of our love and kinship between brothers and sisters, beyond man-made narrow domestic walls!

Santosh Chowdhury
Royal Govt. Of Bhutan


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