Posts

Off The Beaten Path: Children Celebrate Raksha Bandhan

Hindu children celebrate the annual festival of Raksha Bandhan. PHOTO CREDIT: World Religion News

 

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: The Annual Festival of Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a beautiful Hindu festival that commemorates the love and loyalty that exists between brothers and sisters. Celebrations include a meaningful tradition where sisters tie a colorful rakhi bracelet fashioned from silken threads onto their brother’s wrists. Raksha Bandhan translates to mean “Knot of Protection” and its significance is a reminder that above all, brothers must provide protection for their sisters.

A young girl ties a Rakhi bracelet onto her brother’s wrist. Photo Credit: Flickr

 

The celebration of Raksha Bandhan begins with Hindu prayer and then sisters each tie Rakhi bracelets onto their brother’s wrists while mantras are chanted by family members. Sisters will then place roli (vibrantly colored powder) and rice upon their brother’s forehead, praying for him and bestowing him with her blessings and gifts.

Brothers return the blessings and pledge to take care of their sisters. As a reminder of his pledge, sisters receive a gift from their brothers. It is a unique opportunity for siblings to show their admiration and respect for each other. Additionally, Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of family where relatives can gather and share their appreciation of one another.

 

Historically, the gift of the Rakhi bracelet has extended beyond a tradition between brothers and sisters. The Maratha and Rajput queens sent bracelets to Mughal Kings for protection and alliance. In modern society, the bracelets have also been incorporated into marriage ceremonies to symbolize the exchange of vows.
Mantra for Raksha Bandhan (anonymous):

Yena baddho balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah;
Tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshey maa chala maa chala

“I am tying on your hand this Raksha,
with which the most powerful and generous King Bali himself was bound;
O Raksha, don’t go away;
don’t go away.”

References:
Rakhi: The thread of love
Hindus prepare for Raksha Bandhan, annual celebration of brother-sister love
Mantra for Raksha Bandham

Top News Stories 7/18 – 7/24

 

Palestinian boys play at St. Porphyrios, a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City where up to one thousand Palestinians have found refuge. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Approximately 1,000 Palestinians have found shelter in a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza that was built in the 12th century.
According to a Reuters article published on July 22, 2014:

“We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,” Archbishop Alexios said to a Reuters reporter while the sounds of children playing echoed down the hall.

“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand – mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” explained the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority.

Gaza and Israel: Which side is Tanenbaum on?
To read more about Tanenbaum’s perspective on the conflict in Israel and Gaza, view our blog post by Tanenbaum CEO, Joyce S. Dubensky

Germany, France and Italy condemn anti-Semitic protesters after violent clashes
Many news agencies have reported on the sharp increase of anti-Semitism, although anti-Semitism has been on a slow rise over the past 25 years. Newsweek reported on July 24th that the foreign ministers of Italy, Germany and France have issued a joint statement condemning anti-Semitic statements and acts that have been witnessed throughout anti-Israel protests.

President Obama issued an executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees. Obama first promised to issue the order during his 2008 presidential campaign.
The order does not include any language that exempts religious organizations from following the discrimination protections. However, there is a possible loophole – Obama’s order adds LGBT protections to a previous order signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson’s order does have an exception that allows religious groups to hire only employees “of a particular religion”.

India Mental Health Care
PBS reports on how medical doctors and spiritual practitioners are working together to address mental health in India. There is a dire need for help; in India, only five thousand psychiatrists serve the needs of 120 million people. It is estimated that one hundred million people in India have “common” mental health disorders while 20 million have severe illnesses, e.g. schizophrenia. Watch the video or read the transcript for more.