As Raksha-Bandhan approached and we started receiving Rakhis from my Sister-in-laws, my son's curiosity level rose up higher. Lately, he is getting very much interested in learning the logic behind Hindu rituals and traditions. He becomes inquisitive about anything and everything that we follow in our family as a tradition.
His recent visit to Crossword got him some books on Indian Saints & Jatak Kathayein. Thanks to this acquired knowledge, we have started having endless discussions on mythological topics, its relevance to modern day life & Beliefs and superstitions (This particular topic, I shall cover in another post)
So let's come back to Raksha-Bandhan thing. He knows a little bit about Hindu calendar by now. So It was clear to him that it's celebrated on Full Moon Day (Poornima) of Shravan month. One fine day, as we received another courier, our discussion kicked off again.
He: (exclaiming) Mamma! few more rakhis! Wow! I am going to tie them up all. Glad I have so many sisters. (He sounded happy)
Me: O' so my li'l hero is happy to have so many sisters.
He: Of course, I am! Sisters are fun to be with.
Me: But you know that you have to promise them that you will protect them for your entire life?
He: (showed confidence) Yeah I know that Brothers promise their sisters that they will protect them forever. (Pause) But Mamma what do they need protection from? Are they in any sort of danger? Or somebody is causing them any harm? They are capable of doing anything, then why do they need to ask for protection?
He religiously believes that girls can do anything and can take care of themselves. (That is another interesting incident saved for some other day). But Yes! it did make me re-evaluate my words before uttering.
Me: Umm Yes! You are right. Girls can take care of themselves. But in case, they need any help or support in life, they can call out for their brothers. & they should respond to their call for help, that's why brothers take a vow on this day. This is the reason, we call it Raksha-Sutra. As they pray while tying - up this Raksha-Sutra to their brothers, it is supposed to save brothers from any harm as well.
He: But brother could need a help sometimes in life. He could need a support too. So Can he call his sister for help? Or only brothers are supposed to help and protect sisters?
(That came hard on me).
Me: No beta, nothing like that. Brothers, too, can seek help from their sisters. It's not only one-way policy.
He seemed happy and went away with his new book. But it took me back to memory lane when we were kids.
Though my brother is younger to me, we were always told that he would protect and help us whenever we are in need of any. We never questioned and just took it as biblical words. I and my younger sister cajoled him, fought with him like any other sibling. We seriously never demanded any protection sort of thing. While growing up together, helping and caring for each other came as a natural thing. When I got married, he performed all rituals religiously which all a brother is supposed to do. This vow never came between us. It has been more like a habit to support each other. He did come to me when he needed any help & I did feel his pain. Though we never put our feelings into words, we know that we are there for each other.
After this contemplation, I decided to change the way of celebration a bit this year onwards. As we talked over phone on the festival day, I gave voice to my feelings and rephrased our vows:
"I promise you Bhai to be there with you through all thick and thin in life. I promise to help you, support you and protect you in the case of any adversity. I promise to lend you an ear when you need somebody to listen to you, a shoulder to lean on when you seek support, a hand to hold you when you are tired and a heart full of love when you need it the most. I shall always be somebody whom could you come to any time and under any circumstances. Long Live You Bhai!"