Every year the Social Media gets bombarded with questions pertaining to the tradition of Rakhri.
Do I celebrate it? No (from last 9 years now)
Is it a Sikh tradition? No.
Can a Sikh still celebrate it? Read Below
To start with, Let us first look at the anti-Sikh aspects of this day:
Ritualism: The tying of the rakhri in Hinduism is meant to be a spiritual kavach, or shield, that the sister bestows on the brother. Hindus take it as Raksha Bandhan where Raksha means protection and bandhan means bond.
However, as a Sikh one must not get into such a bond, it does not serve us as reminder for sure. Sikhi denounces the power of any such strings (as Guru Nanak Dev Ji outlines in Asa Di Vaar):
“Daya kapah santokh soot Jat gandi sat vat Eho janehu jie ka hai ta pane ghat”.
Meaning: (Out of the cotton of mercy roll the thread of contentment,Twisting them with righteous zeal,
Tie them into a knot of continence. O, pandit it will not break or get soiled Or be burnt or lost)
Prejudice: There is also a double meaning attached to this day. While the sister bestows spiritual protection on the brother, the brother gives his sister a vow that he will always protect her. This is a stark contradiction to what our Sikh Gurus taught us.
Does a Kaur need to be dependent on a guy for the protection of herself, and that too via a rakhri to remind him? And then, can a sister not protect her brother? Aren’t we making woman weak by this rather useless tradition?
Can a Sikh still celebrate it? Why not?
However, we must weed out the un-Sikh aspects of it. Let us see how…
As long as no such importance is given to it by Sikhs, I believe it is harmless, but when we start adding the protection and superiority caveat to it, it is against our very philosophy
Take away the ritualism: Think of the string that a sister ties, nothing more than a friendship bracelet. It has no spiritual value as a raksha kavach. The day can simply be celebrated as a holiday (in India). Celebrate it a day with your sister singing the hymns from Gurbani and sharing some great Sikhi/loving gifts with each other.
It is as easy as thinking about a day when you might have planned a day without eating anything from health management purpose and not adding any spiritual bond onto that like the one added onto “Karva-chauth varats in Hinduism” or “Rozas in Muslim”. As long as you don’t add these ritual aspects, you can still go on without food (unlike fasting).
Take away the Prejudice: A Kaur has the capability to defend herself, and she can help empower herself by doing so. We share stories of prominent Sikh women, especially Mai Bhago (Mata Bhaag Kaur), Maharani Jindan (Jind Kaur), Mata Gujri Ji and how they asserted their personal sovereignty during their time. They were strong. In Sikhism, women are not expected to look upon their brothers for their protection. If that was the case, what would be the point of wearing Kirpans? Guru Gobind Singh ji said when all other way-outs are failed, its right to draw a sword?
All external expressions of mankind are born out of a sense of incompleteness that exists deep inside all of us and the Guru is just trying to make us complete, so that we become free of all forms of bondage. One should rather wake up spiritually and let all attachments drop off on their own than try to fight them directly. Let there be light and the darkness shall vanish on its own, no one can fight the darkness and make it disappear. The spectrum of darkness is far and wide and Raksha Bandhan and most other external customs and rituals fall at the shallow end of it, there are far greater illusions of Maya that one needs to contend with first.
Attack the Root of all problems, which is the Ego, instead of trying to pluck out one leaf or branch at a time, they’ll just keep growing back! If you succeed in eradicating one bandhan today, some other bandhan will come to haunt you tomorrow. I feel we have taken the battle to the wrong arena.
Last but certainly not least, if you choose to not celebrate this holiday, kudos to you and you have my full respect. However, please realize that other people may not feel the same way and refrain from insulting them or casting judgment upon them. Instead let us try to educate them via Sikhi Roots. Tying Rakhri is only a Symptom of the actual disease. So let us focus on curing the disease (Ego) through Gurbani rather than insulting one another on Social Media.
Respect is the key word here.
Bhul Chuk di Muafi