Raksha Bhandan is a day where a sister prays for her brother’s long life and the brother promises to protect her all her life. A few days ago when my mother reminded me of this day I told her I wasn’t going to be taking part as it’s not a Sikh tradition. Then my mother gave me one of her ‘please don’t fight with me over this issue’ look and I gave in. Since I gave in, I decided I should at least reexamine this holiday and see if Waheguru Ji wants me to learn something from it. The more time I spent researching Raksha Bhandan, the more I felt like a fool for thinking it’s just about a string, money and sweets. Raksha Bhandan is about a promise from a sister to her brother, from a brother to her sister and a promise from the children to their parents.
As a Sikh during Raksha Bhandan I promise my brother a lot more than just to pray for his wellbeing. I start by doing ardass for my brother that he may always be blessed by Waheguru Ji and soon become a proper Gursikh. After I have done ardass for my brother I make him a few promises to my brother because as a Sikh woman I am capable of more than just praying. I promise my brother that I will fight by his side if there ever is a need, I will not leave him alone to fight. I promise my brother that I will be the best Gursikh I can be, so he never has to feel ashamed of me. I promise my brother that every time he looks at his wrist he will know that I will always be at his side, making him proud. Feeding him a sweet, I promise to keep our relationship a sweet one. I make these promises not just to my blood brother but every Sikh as all Sikhs are either my brothers or my sisters.
I made my promises to all my Sikh brothers and I hope my brother will make his promises to all his Sikh Sisters. I ask my brother to do ardass for me, so Waheguru Ji may bless me to be a proper Gursikh. After he does ardass I ask him to make a few promises to me as I tie a rakhri on his wrist. I ask him to promise to always treat me as an equal and allow me to stand by his side whenever he needs me. I ask him to promise me that he’ll try harder to be a Gursikh, so I can stand proud and say that my brother is a true Sikh. I ask him to keep the rakhri on his wrist as a constant reminder of me, his sister and to always keep me in his life. As he feds me a sweet, he like me promises to keep our relationship a sweet one. Then he hands me some money to promise me he’ll help with any sort of problem I face, including finical. With a small gift he promises to always keep me happy. The rakhri is a sweet reminder for a brother never to forget the promises he makes his sister.
Brothers and Sisters exchange many promises on Raksha Bhandan and unknowingly, they exchange a few promises with their parents. Through Raksha Bhandan they promise their parents that they will always be there for each other. That they won’t let the family fall apart. The string of a Rakhri will always keep them tied to each other. The sweets will always keep their relationship a sweet one, a happy one. With the gifts a promise to look after small happiness is exchanged. The money is a promise to be together through thick and thin. A promise between siblings is also a promise to parents that the family will not fall apart. It gives parents a peace of mind and happiness beyond words.
As a Sikh, I celebrated Raksha Bhandan because of the unity it brings to my family. I did not follow the Hindu Traditions attached to it but I did try to keep Waheguru Ji on my mind and do Ardass as I tied the Rakhri. I don’t know as a Sikh if I am supposed to even a rakhri at all but to keep my mother happy, I am willing to do it. I did not change my principles for the sake of my mother; instead I turned to Waheguru Ji for guidance on Raksha Bhandan. Waheguru Ji has inspired me to think of it as a promise between siblings and a promise between parents and the kids.