Nepal is facing a particularly hard time at the moment, with coronavirus and dramatic floods causing huge problems. It’s at times like these that we could all do with a distraction and that’s exactly what’s been happening this week at the children’s home and help line, where they celebrated the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
Celebrated each year on the full moon day of July/August, Raksha Bandhan is a popular Hindu ceremony that celebrates the love of a brother for his sister. Traditionally, the sister ties the rhaki, a thread or talisman around the brothers wrist and receives a small gift in return. This symbolises his duty to defend her and honour their relationship. In some areas this is particularly significant for married women who marry outside their own village. Usually their parents will not visit them in their new marital home, so this provides them with a connection to their brother and their natal home.
These days, it’s not always a sister tying the rhaki. It could be a priest tying the rakhi around the wrists of congregation members, or they can be shared between close friends. The part that endures is the celebration of love and brotherhood, giving a sense of community to those celebrating together.
At the Birgunj childrens home and help line this is an important festival for the children (as most festivals are) and it’s a great way to teach them the norms and values of their culture, specifically the importance of traditions and festivals. To celebrate, a small band is tied around the child’s wrist (a bit like a friendship bracelet) and some tika (a red coloured powder) is put on their forehead, they then feed sweets to each other. This year is a little different; because of coronavirus no one is allowed in from outside of the house, the boys can’t see their sisters, but that won’t stop them celebrating!
Particularly in difficult times like these, these traditions and festivals provide a connection to normality, tradition, and family that those at the children’s home or help line can’t see. It brings a smile to all the children’s faces and that’s always wonderful.