Friday November 24, 2017

Celebrating Raksha Bandhan: Significance of the ancient Hindu festival is all about Brotherhood

Dividing the name: ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bound; in Sanskrit, it literally means ‘the knot of protection’

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Raksha Bandhan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Raksha Bandhan is a festival that’s celebrated each year around mid-August
  • Even the sages tied the sacred thread to themselves as a method of safeguarding themselves against all evils
  • There are logical reasons behind each action performed during this festival

August 18, 2016: This year, India celebrates August 18 as the festival of brotherhood. Raksha Bandhan, popularly known as Rakhi is one of the ancient and most significant festivals among Hindus.

“To the most wonderful sister in the world: they say your rakhi is my promise to protect you but I hope that doesn’t mean that I can no longer mess up your freshly tied ponytail, wrestle for the remote or steal the last piece of cake from your plate. However, I and only I can pick on you, so expect me to soon punch that guy in your class who calls you fat. Not because you aren’t fat but simply because you are MY fatty to annoy. Happy Raksha Bandhan loser, I promise to be your superman in case you ever need one.” – a message from a brother to her sister on Raksha Bandhan.

Messages like the one above, can bring a tear to someone’s eye; for the ancient Hindu festival celebrates brotherhood by bond. Having said that, do any of us know the real reason behind this festival’s existence? If this question has bothered you for a while then do read further to satiate that curiosity.

History

Taking it back to the old school, even the rishi munis tied rakhi to the people who came to seek their blessings whereas the sages tied the sacred thread to themselves as a method of safeguarding themselves against all evils. Rabindranath Tagore first promoted the festival, to spread the feeling of unity and encourage, a harmonious social existence with a promise to protect each other from any harm or evil. In that era, people didn’t stop at siblings; a rakhi was tied to the neighbours and close friends too. It was each individual’s way of signifying a peaceful co-existence.

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Raksha Bandhan elebration with street children
Raksha Bandhan elebration with street children

Significance

Dividing the name: ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bound. In Sanskrit, it literally means ‘the knot of protection’. It’s a festival that’s celebrated each year around in mid-August. Even though it is a Hindu festival, but Jains and Sikhs celebrate it too.

There are logical reasons behind each action performed during the festival. For example, there’s a purpose behind tying the sacred thread on the right wrist instead of the left. It is due to the Brahmin’s action of placing an amulet on your right wrist in order to protect you from misery and depression. This sacred thread promises love, care and respect for one another, in addition to the vow of protection. Additionally, the early morning baths are to purify your mind and soul.

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There are various legends that follow this festival, one such interesting legend is of the Lord of Death (Yama) and his sister, Yamuna. When Yamuna tied a rakhi to him, Yama was so moved by the serenity of it all that he declared immortality to whoever promised protection to their sisters when tied a rakhi. Well, immortality sounds like a good reason to support the celebrations with some gusto.

Raksha bandhan, a festival that involves preparing elaborate food items, distributing sweets, and gifts. The main purpose behind the festival is togetherness, that adds happiness in one’s life. It’s a celebration of love, care and respect that one has for the another.

– prepared by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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Dalai Lama says that India and China have great potential

The spiritual leader feels that both the countries are doing compassionate works

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Dalai Lama talks about India and China
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai says that India and China can work together. VOA

New Delhi, Nov 19

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have “great potential” and they could work together at a “practical level”.

“I think, a great potential… India and China combined are doing more compassionate work… At a practical level also. Imagine two billion people working together,” he told reporters here after inaugurating Smile Foundation’s initiative, The World of Children.

The spiritual leader, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959, said neither country had the “ability to destroy the other”.

“Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side,” he said.

Underlining the ancient spiritual connection between the two countries, he said Chinese Buddhist Hsuan Tsang visited Nalanda (now in Bihar) and brought Nalanda Buddhist traditions to China.

“All thinkers of Nalanda are Indian. So Nalanda’s tradition is India’s tradition,” he said.

The Nalanda traditions had turned Tibetans, who were warriors, into more compassionate, peaceful and non-violent nation, he said.

“So sometimes in Delhi, teasing my Indian friend, (I say) if Tibet still remained in the previous way of life, like Mongols, Chinese invasion may not have taken place,” the Dalai Lama said in a lighter vein.

He said nobody in the world wanted violence but it was happening “because our minds are dominated by destructive emotions due to short-sightedness”.

“Nobody wants problems. Yet, many problems are our own creation.”

The Dalai Lama said the existing modern education was oriented to material values. India can take lead in improving the education system by combining modern education with ancient knowledge, he said. (IANS)

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Manushi Chhillar from India Wins the Miss World 2017 Title

India's Manushi Chillar won the coveted Miss World 2017 pageant here, 16 years after Priyanka Chopra won the title in 2000.

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Miss World
Manushi Chhillar has been crowned as Miss World 2017. Instagram #ManushiChhillar

China, November 19: India’s Manushi Chhillar won the coveted Miss World 2017 pageant, 16 years after Priyanka Chopra won the title in 2000.

Chhillar competed against 108 contestants from various countries at a glittering event held at Sanya City Arena here.

Miss World 2016 winner Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle gave away the coveted crown to the winner.

Chhillar, who is from Haryana, had earlier this year won the Femina Miss India 2017.

Miss world
Anti Ageing was the official skin care expert for Manushi Chhillar at the Miss World 2017 pageant. Instagram #ManushiChhillar

India, England, France, Kenya and Mexico grabbed the top five spots at the peagant.

Manushi, born to doctor parents, studied in St. Thomas School in New Delhi and Bhagat Phool Singh Government Medical College for Women in Sonepat.

Her entire family including brother and sister were present and they looked excited watching Manushi grabbing top five spot.

As many as 108 beauty queens from different parts of the world participated in the prestigious pageant. (IANS)