Saturday (29 August) of bank holiday weekend was raksha bandhan. My family and my dad’s sister’s family spent the holiday weekend together to celebrate this Indian festival.
Raksha bandhan is a traditional festival, which celebrates the brother-sister relationship (this relationship holds particular significance in Indian culture). It consists of a sister applying a tilak – a red dot on her brother’s forehead (it is a paste made by mixing kumkum powder and water), tying a bracelet around his right hand wrist, and praying / wishing for his long and healthy life. The rakhi itself symbolises love and protection, and literally translated means, bond of protection. In return for his sister’s blessings and prayers, the brother offers his sister a gift and promises to look out for her.
While the exact date of the festival changes each year (the Hindu calendar consists of 13 months), it brings families together. This was no different for my family here in London – my dad’s sister and her family came to visit and stayed over for the weekend.
While most celebrating this festival get dressed in their finest, things are quite casual in my household and for my cousins – we stuck to our western outfits. However, this did not diminish the significance – I still remembered and appreciated all my brothers, both here in London and those living around the world. In fact, I love this festival as with the pace of life moving so fast, it brings the extended family together and to the forefront despite geographical distances. I remembered all the great times I’ve had with my brother and cousin brothers over the years when we have all gathered in India – it makes me realise how lucky I am to have them in my life.