TAXILA: Hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs observed the festival of Raksha Bandhan, commonly known as rakhi, on Monday at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal.
Women tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers and pray for their safety while the brothers promise to protect their sisters forever and also give them presents. Those observing the religious festival dress up for the occasion and the holy thread is usually tied at a time prescribed by pundits.
“When a woman ties a thread around a man’s wrist, he will not forget the meaning of the bond established the next day. He will look out for that woman for the rest of his life. This is a serious responsibility,” said Neha Kumari, who was observing the ritual.
“Though the festival is now observed between siblings, it began as an honourable relationship between strangers. Some years ago, two women to whom I was not related by blood made me their brother. They are now married and live in India but always send me a rakhi every year,” said Ratan Kumar, who belongs to Shakirpur and also made a new sister at the temple. Another participant explained that Raksha Bandhan translates to the bond of protection.
According to Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) Deputy Secretary Shrines Syed Faraz Abbas, Rakhsha Bandhan begins on the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravan and could go on for seven days.
According to the Hindu history, the festival dates back to the Vedic period when deities and demons were fighting on a poornima, or a full moon night of the Hindu month of Shravan.
The king of the deities, Lord Indra, was worried as the demons were in a stronger position so his wife, Indrani (also known as Shashikala) prepared a magical thread and tied it to Indra’s right wrist.
The thread protected him and the deities and they won the battle. The magic was called Raksha Sutra and later renamed to Raksha Bandhan.
The festival takes place on a poornima day in Shravan each year.
Addressing the Bhog ceremony, which marks the conclusion of the three-day festival, ETPB Additional Secretary Shrines Tariq Wazir said the government was committed to ensuring religious freedom in Pakistan and that the ETPB was making efforts so all important religious days were celebrated.
Other than Sikh temples, the board is also looking after the nine mandirs in the country, he said, adding free boarding and lodging facilities were provided to the pilgrims at the Punja Sahib. He said funds had also been allocated for talented students from minority communities.
Assistant Commissioner Jannat Hussein also visited the temple and talked to the Hindu and Sikh pilgrims about the facilities provided to them and issued necessary orders on individual requests.
Talking to mediapersons, the AC said about 1,400 pilgrims were visiting the Punja Sahib to observe rakhi and that the ETPB, local administration and the TMA were making efforts to make the stay of the pilgrims comfortable. Though there is no specific security threat, a three-layer security plan has also been put in place.
Vendors inside the temple had set up stalls for selling rakhi, which came in many colours and designs and the prices for which varied between Rs100 and Rs700. The more expensive rakhi were imported from Hyderabad Deccan, India.
“They have zircon, beads and rudraksha seeds. The combination helps ward of the evil eye and brings good luck to whoever will wear them,” said Sharma Kumar, a vendor.
Rakhi was also observed in the Velmeki Temple in Attock under the supervision of Pundit Madan Laal.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2017