There is a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharat when Lord Krishna mistakenly cuts his finger from the thread of a kite. Draupadi comes in, tears a piece of her sari, and wraps it around the cut. That is when Lord Krishna makes a vow to always protect her. This is believed to be the origin of the tradition of Rakshya Bandhan. It symbolizes a vow to forever love and care for one's brother and protect one’s sister from any evil of the world.
Every year, Rakshya Bandhan comes with a lush of excitement in Nepali homes. It is a festival that brings together the joy of being with family while creating a bond between brothers and sisters. It is the time of the year for memories and happiness of being around the people that one loves the most in the world. Here are some of such stories of the beauty of this festival.
Shambhavi, 25, and Sharmila, 27, grew up helping their parents raise their little brother, Rikesh, now 17. “We like to tease him by saying he is lucky enough to have not just one but three mothers in life,” Sharmila shares. For the sisters, all their life, this day, reminded them of how much love they have for their little brother. “He knows that he always has us to share things he cannot share with our parents, and I feel grateful to watch him grow up to be this wonderful person. I know I will always be there for him,” says Shambhavi. Even after the girls’ marriages, they always visit Rikesh a day before Rakhi and spent the evening and the next day with each other, like in old times, she shares.
As a kid, having an extra holiday in a week was enough to look forward to Rakshya Bandhan. And that too, being able to spend with your favorite cousins, a cherry on top indeed. It's the same for 11-year-old Kusum who spends her day with her three cousin brothers, tying Rakhi in their hands and playing video games all day. Living far away from each other, they rarely get to meet each other throughout the year. “My core memory of Rakhi is connected to hanging out with them every year, and it is one of my happiest days to remember and look forward to,” she shares.
While, to some, this day marks unity. Prabhash and Palistha, now both 25, are twins. But from the age of 7, they had to spend most of their school life apart. Palistha went to an all-girls school and had to live in the school hostel, and Prabhash lived in the hostel of his school. Only twice a year, the twins reunited in their grandparents’ home; on Dashain, and Rakshya Bandhan. “My brother is my only close family as we lost our parents when we were only babies and our grandparents took care of us. This day is very emotional for me as, all my life, I used to cherish the opportunity to see my brother,” shares Palistha. Even after spending almost 8 years apart, the twins have the most special bonding and are now closer to each other than ever. “Sometimes I feel like the distance made us very expressive with our love. We rarely fight and still are each other’s best friends as we have been all our lives.”
Rajan, now 24, grew up as a single child with all of his relatives back home in Butwal. Having a sister was like a dream to him. That was until he met Susmita in 5th grade. What started as friends, Susmita started jokingly calling him a big brother that she never had. And ever since then, she never missed bringing a Rakhi a day before Rakhshya Bandhan for Rajan to tie around his wrist during lunch breaks. “Even after we were done with 10th grade, I always go to her house on this day. This day is so precious to me because we didn’t need a blood relationship to connect, and our relationship isn’t just limited to this day. She has been with me through thick and thin, and is one of the most special people in my life.”
Babita, 38, as well, met her now brother Sameer, 39, 20 years ago when Sameer moved into her neighborhood to pursue his studies in Kathmandu. Both connected with the feeling of having no siblings or cousins nearby. “I remember, one Rakshya Bandhan, Babita comes into my floor randomly with a Rakhi in her hand and ties it around mine,” Sameer shares, “we just laughed it out like the kids we were. But ever since then, I have never missed a year to go to her on this day. She is like my own sister to me, even my kids are closer to her than ever.”
These stories don’t just carry the tradition, but also memories, bonding, and a special connection that a brother and a sister have between them. Rakshya Bandhan in the modern-day has become a moment to cherish these relationships we hold close to our hearts, and take a vow on protecting each other until the end.