A girl ties Rakhi on the wrist of her brother during the Raksha Bandhan festival at Gurdwara Punja Sahib on Friday. — Dawn
A girl ties Rakhi on the wrist of her brother during the Raksha Bandhan festival at Gurdwara Punja Sahib on Friday. — Dawn

TAXILA: Members of the Hindu and Sikh community celebrated the annual festival of Rakhi to mark the bond of love between brothers and sisters at Gurdwara Punja Sahib on Friday.

during the event, sisters tie a thread, called Rakhi, around the wrist of their brothers to pray for their prosperity, health and safety.

After the ceremony and Pooja (worship), the brothers present gifts to their sisters. Married sisters also visit their brothers to tie Rakhi and the occasion becomes a great family gathering.

Hindu girls, women and even the elderly mostly from rural Sindh and Sikh from various parts of KP thronged the Sikh temple to buy Rakhis.

“Rakhi festival dates back to the Vedic period which is a religious festival of Hindus,” said Gulbahar Singh, head Garanthi of Gurdwara Punja Sahib. He said Rakhi was also known as Raksha Bandhan which meant a bond of protection. The festival is observed on a full moon day in the month of Shravana and typically falls in August.

“It celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters and gives them an opportunity to bond and spread love.”

Mr Singh said according to the tradition, girls can tie a rakhi thread to their brothers or to someone they regard as a brother. In return, the brother gives a token of gift and promises to protect her from any problem.

Deities and demons were fighting on a poornima (full moon) day of the Hindu month of Shravan. Lord Indra, the king of the deities, was worried because the demons were in a stronger position. So his wife Indrani, who is also known as Shashikala, prepared a magical thread using her religious power and tied it to Indra’s right wrist.

The thread protected him and the deities won the battle eventually.

The magic was initially called Raksha Sutra, and renamed over time to Raksha Bandhan.

“Hindu women also fasten rakhis to members of other faiths whom they consider as brothers,” Gopal Singh Chawla, Chairman Sikh Punjabi Sangat, told newsmen.

“Sikh and Christians come to attend our religious gatherings, and we attend their religious gatherings while participation from three different religions in this festival helps promote interfaith harmony in the country,” he said.

A teenager, Reema Kumri, from Jacobabad said she purchased a number of Rakhis.

“It was a joyful day for us. I have not only two Hindu brothers but also three Sikh friends whom I consider my brother.”

Chandan Lal, a 24-year-old Hindu community member from Peshawar, said: “We started preparing for the festival much in advance and today we celebrated it with different rituals followed by a family get-together”.

He added: “My sister tied a Rakhi and in return I pampered her by presenting a gift. Then all of the family members had delicious food, sweets and gifts.”

Sanjana Khurana, a young girl from Kohat, told Dawn that as there was no major temple in her area all Hindus living in KP gathered at Gurdwara Punja Sahib to celebrate the festival.

Sandeep, a teenager from Sukkur, said his family visited Punja Sahib every year to celebrate the event.

Inside Gurdwara Punja Sahib, many shopkeepers had set up makeshift stalls for selling Rakhis in different colours and designs among other items which were generally used in Pooja and other religious rituals. Their prices varied from Rs100 to Rs500 and Rakhis imported from Indian Hyderabad were also available.

Special security measures had been made by the police and other law enforcement agencies for the devotees.

Subdivisional Police Officer Azhar Khan said 566 policemen had been deployed for the safety and security of the devotees.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019