Raksha Bandhan: Another form of Slavery

“Ultimate tragedy of mankind is not the brutality of few but the silence of many”. — Martin Luther King

I just came back from the market after having a cup of coffee and while coming back couldn’t resist myself going near to the stalls where lots of people were busy buying Rakhis and other stuff as if shopkeeper was selling those free. Yes, it’s Raksha Bandhan; a festival of slavery is back!

Yes, Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival (now infiltrated to almost all other religions including Sikhism and Buddhism) is within few hours. After coming back, I sit down to collect my thoughts over this festival and realities associated with the same festival. Do Sikhism, Buddhism promote Raksha Bandhan? What Dalit-Bahujans have to do with this festival? Do women really feel safe in India? Is it really a women’s festival? Should women stop tying Rakhis? Are there any alternatives to these festivals? There are many questions those are coming to my mind right now.

“The man, who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes”.

First, there is no historical background of festival of this festival. Yes, yes! I do agree most of the festivals (Dusherha, Diwali, Holi etc) we Indians celebrate don’t have any historical background. If a lady tied a thread on king’s wrist & he won lots of battles, that’s just a fiction, not a history and there must be a strong line between fiction and history. (Ohh… not for us, for Indians it’s thin line between fiction and history and we can cross over anytime!). Nor a thread can make someone to win. There is a chanting of holy mantra in Hinduism:

Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah |
Tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala ||

It means, “I am tying a Raksha to you, similar to the one tied to Bali, the powerful king of the demons. Oh Raksha, be firm, do not waver.” How this simple, annually recurring act of tying the Rakhi on one’s wrist can evoke such strong and intense emotions in a person is indeed surprising & interesting!

Now live telecast on television, I’m watching many women going to front and tying Rakhis to the army people to make them strong. (Or they be firm, don’t waver while raping innocent girls, murder women after rape as happened in Kashmir & north eastern states).

Here is common notion set (set by Brahmin-Baniya media) that relation of Brother-Sister is pure love, effective etc but it’s not true as more than 80% of world don’t celebrate this festival & they are strong enough than Indians (here consider under nutrition people also). On the one hand when Indians don’t accept a girl child (consider poor sex ratio here), women society faces discrimination in all respects but afterward thinking of festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Women’s Empowerment Day seems funny to me! Isn’t it funny to note that Raksha Bandhan comes with the warranty of one year? Ohh… I’ll protect you for one year and after that you need to tie a new Rakhi to me if you want me to further protect you as if it’s a mobile recharge card with one year validity!

Raksha Bandhan: Sikhism and Buddhism

“If you want to destroy a society, destroy its history and the society will get destroyed automatically”. — Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

Sikhism and Buddhism are the two religions those inspire me the most. But, when I see Sikh women going to Gurudwaras and tying Rakhis to the palki of Guru Granth Sahib or when I see Buddhist women going to Buddhist religious places and tying Rakhis to banyan trees; I feel sad for innocent people.

What was originally a Hindu festival has ignorantly been accepted by Sikhs and Buddhists without questioning the credibility of the festival or without considering what Sikh Gurus or Buddha had said or what Dr Ambedkar said in 22 Vows. Buddha and Sikh Gurus never accepted Hindu customs, rather than accepting they challenged many ritual practices in Brahmanism such as ‘Guru Nanak Dev Ji’ refused to wear a janeu and Buddha challenged caste system. Buddha and all Sikh Gurus had rightly said “You must not only discard the shastras, you must deny their authority & you should have courage to tell Hindus that where they are wrong”.

Sikhs and Buddhist heritage is so rich that in both religions men and women were given equal rights/status from the beginning. Why would women need protection when they can defend themselves? In 1706 A.D. at “Khidrana di dhab”, where the Sikhs were fighting against Mughals and when 40 Sikh men abandoned 10th guru ‘Guru Gobind Singh Ji’ in the time of need their wives took the weapons and came to fight.

Women in Sikhism and Buddhism were treated equal so don’t just fall prey to fake rituals created to destroy rich inheritance of Sikhs and Buddhists.

Raksha Bandhan: Hindrance to the development of women society

“In Hinduism, conscience reason & independent thinking have no scope for development.” — Dr B. R. Ambedkar

When sister ties a thread on the wrist of brother & asks him to protect her in difficulties. Don’t all you think it is showing that women society is not eligible to protect them & women society always needs a help. Isn’t it showing that the women society is inferior & can’t help own-self? (Here consider what Manusamriti says “Before marriage women should be under protection of father, after marriage under protection of husband, after death of husband she should be under protection of children,” i.e. she is never free & can’t do anything on her own will.)

After few days of Raksha Bandhan here comes the “Bhaiya Dhuj” festival, on this day sister prays for long life of brother. But there is no such festival on the day when brother will pray for sister’s long life. Isn’t it a best way to keep women society down & not to give many chances to grow? If women society still needs her brothers to protect her from her husband or if she still looks at the face of brother to get help, then I’ll say there is no meaning of women empowerment (forget about the Dalit women empowerment), which many women organizations are claiming loudly. Raksha Bandhan is itself a Bandhan (hindrance) to the development of women society. In Rig Veda, Ramayana, Manusamriti, Visnusamriti and many other Hindu religious documents women society has been degraded and projected as a ‘sex-object but nothing else’. I would really love that every woman read the book named Genocide of Women in Hinduism” by Sita Agarwal and then decide do they need to celebrate this slavery?

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in many parts of India under different names; this is known as Narial Poornima or Coconut Full Moon in Mumbai’s famous beaches. Coconuts are thrown into the sea to propitiate (calm down) the Sea God, Varuna. Interesting, isn’t it? Helping Japan to fight Tsunami?

Rationally thinking do we really need a special day to pour all the love, care, affection and attachment? Can’t we live without such festivals? Yes, celebrate rich history not poor fiction. Poor people spend at least 100’s of rupees on Rakhi’s, albeit of the fact that they can hardly afford to celebrate money-wasting-occasions such as Diwali, Dusherha, Rakhi but still mental slaves are willing to celebrate. These all are the beautifully carved tactics of businessmen & pundit-pujaris to earn money & trap illiterate people. Keep in mind businessmen are not from the downtrodden communities. All these businessmen are highly educated but the fact is only downtrodden – the untouchables – are illiterate. On “Shivratri” give milk to pundit-pujaris, on “Diwali” give sweets to pundit-pujaris, on “Holi” give “bhang” to drink. All these are nothing but the tactics to keep the business of temples running. Till what time all this will keep on going and we’ll keep mum?

Man’s Psyche Must Change

21st century must become synonymous with the time woman finally getting her rightful place in society and her status at home will largely determine her standing in the world. Her needs and aspirations are essential because only then can she give her best to society.
A happy woman will make a loving home and bring up sons and daughters who have a healthy outlook towards life and are not scared to denounce the evils afflicting every little step of their walk towards a peaceful existence. Thus, to begin with there must be democracy in the family.

The husband and wife should work as a team with both partners having an equal say in decision-making. The woman must not be condemned to play the role of a maid to the man – whether it is father, brother husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law or son. Society needs to get rid of lots of shortcomings that have only undermined the position of woman. Just as the practice of sati has been abolished (well, almost), the world would be a far better place if people spent their time in constructive activities rather than collecting dowry by selling their sons or marrying girls off during their childhood and leaving them to their “fate” or satisfying their lust by kidnapping, raping, murdering and dumping newlywed girls on the name of God.

In order to iron out the unevenness in society, the women must be educated and they should learn to assert their rights and shun the injustices heaped on them. The real change will be when man’s psyche undergoes a transformation and both men and women meet mid-way rather than the girl always making all the adjustments.

Let’s break all these illusions, misunderstandings and common notions and celebrate this festival as “Awareness Day”.

(Written on Dated: 12/08/2011 at 6:30pm)

P.S.: Views expressed here in this article are my personal, no-one needs to agree with me. As Buddha said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason & your own common sense.” (Yes, you are welcome to comment or abuse the power!)  

P.P.S.: In case you liked the above piece please click on Like button and share it with your friends! 

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  1. sanjay
    August 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm | #1

    I found this article from one of our Buddhist Friend….. Reasons generally given by Ambedkarites friends behind the celebration of Raksha Bandhan:
    ###The classical reason they give that it doesn’t involve praying of Hindu god.
    ###It is an only authorized day when married sister can come to her brother’s home.
    ###It is day of enjoyment for sisters & brothers as well as whole family to have great feast.
    ###It is an occasion to give Saari / expensive gift to the sister.
    ###Tieing the thread on wrist of brother’s hand is a symbol of love bond what is wrong in it.
    ###It is good festival and we must adopt good things from all other religions.
    In Buddhism there are no such festivals for enjoyments.
    ……and many more……………………….

    3.0 Why do you follow these traditions?
    · This hindu tradition are followed by our previous generations and handed over to us in the name of family customs /traditions and we have accepted as our ancestral traditions.
    · Many of you have fear of unpleasant happening if you don’t follow these traditions & rituals.
    · Some of you may not be bothering about Ambedkarite society/your responsibility as an ambedkarite and just to enjoy your materialist life, fun, pleasure etc.
    · Some of you forced to follow such tradition / ritual because you are living in Hindu society and don’t want to get disintegrate from your hindu friend circle. Hence you have fear of loosing your friends.
    · Some of you never thought of anything wrong about it.

    I feel the main reason is our ignorance, or could be our understanding the rationale behind the accepting Buddhism.
    Babsaheb Ambedkar has left us huge amount of wealth in form of his writing & speeches. Please try to read & understand the philosophy. This will give you inside of how you became today’s intellect and enjoying the fruits of his struggles for you. It will also provide you confidence to defend yourself against caste hindu’s discrimination. I don’t think keeping Babasaheb’s Photo , garlanding and praying will be enough to pay tribute to his effort for you, the better way is to following his philosophy in practice.

    4.0 Why do I say no to Raksha Bandhan/Hindu festivals?

    Did Dr Ambedkar celebrate Raksha Bandhan? Is there any reference in his writing or speeches about Raksha Bandhan? Then why are you celebrating it? Why he converted to Buddhism and not formed new religion importing all good traditions / things from the other religions? In year 1956 we all got converted to Buddhism (In practice) and we have taken 22 Vow given by our messiah Dr B R Ambedkar. Please read these vows once again ( Vow 2 : I shall have no faith in Rama and Krishna…..Vow 7: I shall not act in a manner violating the principle & teaching of Buddha, Vow11: I shall follow noble eight fold path given by buddha…Vow:19 I renounce hinduism which is harmful to humanity……….Vow 20: I firmly believe the dhamma of the buddha is true religion, Vow 22: …I shall hereafter lead my life according to principle and teaching of Budhha).

    2. Raksha Bandhan is celebration of Hindu tradition and as a follower of Dr Ambedkar we must abide to 22 vows given by him on 14th Oct 1956. He had also mentioned in his historical speech that we should not degrade Buddhism by our actions and we must follow Buddhism as it is rebirth for all of us and also propagate Buddhism to fulfill the dream to make India as Buddhist nation. Are we really following the path given by Dr Ambedkar? Are we celebrating Buddhist festival in same scale and spirit?

    We all are (academically) educated and intellects in our society, if we are celebrating such festival what message goes to uneducated dalits. They will also try to follow us because they consider we are learned Ambedkarite and know Dr Ambedkar’s Philosophy better than them. When uneducated people do some similar hindu rituals then why do you criticize them?
    Born in Ambedkarite-Buddhist family gave us a new life, now we have best education, cloths, food and decent/comfortable life and still we want to go back to hindu traditions which has no value for human. Today, if you are passing this tradition to next generation then they will pass to their next generation, one day we all will be going back to same hindu system which is based on discrimination. Do you understand this? What will be future of coming generations?
    The only way to bring back Buddhism to this country to follow Dhamma and also needs cultural revolution by celebrating Buddhist Festivals.

    Conclusion ( What to do?):
    1. Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu Festival. We are all follower of Dr Ambedkar and converted to Buddhism. Don’t celebrate Raksha Bahandan a hindu festival/traditions/ritual​ because you are born in Buddha Dhamma. Follow Buddhist principle & practices, it has no dogmas and unrealistic rituals.
    2. If your sister is coming to your home this Rakhi and don’t want to hurt her sentiments then there are good things to do.
    · a) Tell your sister about the rationale behind not tieing a “Kaccha Dhaga” which will last not more than a week. But you would like to have life-long love bond by sharing happiness by following the dhamma.
    · b) In place of buying an expensive Gift/Sarri on Raksha Bandhan, share this amount to poor needy girl/boy from you neighborhood for her/his education, health & clothing. This dana will give you &your sister more happiness than a buying a Sari which is going to dust-bin one day. But your help will remember forever in the mind of beneficiary & your sister. Also, you will set an example for others to follow you.
    · c) Have a get-together of your family recite trisharan and panchsheel , have a feast. If you know meditation techniques sit in a group/alone for an hour in the vihar/peaceful place. Go to Buddhist places offer dana or visit as a tourist with your family member.

  2. August 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm | #2

    Thank you sanjay for taking your time and making a wonderful comment. I highly appreciate your thoughts and I agree with the Conclusion ( What to do?) you have reached. In this way we can keep out rich inheritance alive!

  3. Joarawar Singh
    August 14, 2011 at 12:48 am | #3

    Great article Pardeep, totally agree!

  4. Anon
    August 14, 2011 at 4:28 am | #5

    I completely agree with your thoughts .

    Its these kind of ‘celebrations’ that take advantage of innocence and use it as a weapon. Great ! first making a sister defencless ( lifetime of brainwash )and then pretend to protect.

    My brother betrayed my blind trust in him and on this ‘ auspicious’ day, I wish I never had one and now consider him dead.

  5. Amardeep Tembhare
    August 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm | #6

    A real eye opener.

  6. Agnostic Indian
    August 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | #8

    Thank you for letting me have the pleasure of the most ridiculous article I read today on the internet. Keep writing! You are capable of great things!

    • August 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | #9

      Thank you “Agnostic Indian” :-) but by the way can you mention what’s the “ridiculous” in the article?

  7. Anon
    August 23, 2011 at 4:28 am | #10

    Agnostic Indian, I too would like to know what you find ridiculous here?

    IMO, its spot on.

    Try doing google for ‘ inauspicious rakhi’ , ‘ not tying rakhi as bad omen ‘ , ‘ consequences of not celebrating rakhi’ , etc etc. , the drift being , what would happen to a brother if a sister doesnt tie rakhi. To no ones surprise , this was the only article I chanced upon after a 2 hours search.The rest being , how a sister should wish for her brother’s( irrespective of how he treats her ) long life and in return, he will protect her.

    I am a Sikh woman and dont believe its our culture but again, its a mens world !

    There are so many women who are illtreated by their brothers but hardly anyone comes up and says that my brother did wrong because of the insult and humiliation attached to it. Not to mention , if her husband knows about it ( like mine ).Once again, while agreeing to this piece of writing, its the woman ( sister ) who will be held responsible for the wrong doing ,as a result of which, the man ( brother ) had to ill treat her.

    Consider me.I am posting as Anon while he posts around all over with his name in bold.

    If there was a facebook page about anti-rakhi , I am sure the number of followers will be huge but mostly anonymous.

    • August 24, 2011 at 5:15 am | #11

      Hello ‘Anon’, you need not to be anonymous any more. I believe women do have equal rights and they also deserve to have their say in the society. But I also do agree that men dominated society has never let women speak their mind. Its really harmful for the society.

      No matter I am boy but I have seen girls being mistreated, women being beaten up by alcoholic husbands, parents so I can understand your pain. (I also come from the family who believes in Sikhism, but I’m more along the line of being agnostic)

      You might also be interested in reading one of my another post

      https://drambedkarbooks.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/on-sati-pati-prameshwar-and-god/

      I agree with you that ill-treatment of women should stop as soon as possible and we should give women a chance to dream and live.

      Thank you for your time and valuable views!

  8. Anon
    August 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm | #12

    Thanks for your kind words!

    Its a catch-22 situation actually. A woman is also a womans’ worst enemy , lol !

    BTW, I am an atheist. A lot of abuse goes on in the name of GOD.

    • September 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm | #13

      I do agree, people have made “God a Good Business”!

  9. Tarunraj
    January 14, 2012 at 2:41 am | #14

    just a nice cmparison…to question some thing traditional, no need to compare women empowerment with Raksha bhandhan…..i am not sure if any other historical religion gives women a better place be it christanity, islam……..but why western world celebrate valentine day (do we need to love just one day, need less to add the essence and depth of such love) , why do they celebrate mother day, father day, teacher day or any damn day……there validity
    the human mind need to get ignite for respecting women and it is definitely not driven by religion…. just that some people find interesting to take a critical stance of presenting one issue by linking it with other….

  10. Anon
    January 15, 2012 at 5:06 am | #15

    @ Tarunraj,

    We celebrate Mother’s ‘ Day’ , Father’s ‘ Day’ and even Grandparents ‘Day’ ( the part of the world where I am now . My child celebrates these days with much enjoyment even though the grandparents are not around ). Its not that we remember them only on this day ,rather we make them feel special and say thankyou for being wonderful .That we are blessed to have them and their love.Its reciprocated.Call it as another Happy Birthday ?

    The day we are talking here is about ‘ Raksha’ or ‘ Rakhi ‘ day and NOT ‘ Sister’s Day’ or ‘ Brother’s Day ‘. Its about protection and not celebrating love , respect and the special bond which people share , unlike the above mentioned special days.

    In this, sisters are celebrating their brothers and treat them like a blessing while brothers grow up believing the sisters to be burden and responsibility, just like their parents.

    Its high time that Raksha Bandhan should be gone and done with . If at all, replace it with celebrating the relationship .

  11. Ranjit
    November 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm | #16

    I agree with you. I have put so many postings against celebrating Rakhri, but nobody seems to agree with me. They all think it is a great day to celebrate the love between a brother and a sister. But what about the love between sisters? What about the love between brothers? It seems to me Rakhri is just a money making day for women! The thread my sisters tie on me just falls off or gets wet or I take it off because it is too tight!

  1. November 11, 2011 at 7:18 am | #1

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