History behind Raksha Bandhan


The significance of the festival can be gauged from the fact that it strengthens the relationship between a brother and sister, a defining character of Indian society. Raksha Bandhan is a festival marked since ancient times and there are several mythological stories that revolve around this custom. Indian history has several stories when brothers are said to have stepped up to protect their sisters during times of adversity. It is said that in the ancient times, queens used to send Rakhi to their neighbours symbolising brotherhood.


It is said that the festival gained popularity after Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a Rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun when she was in need of his help. It is also believed that Draupadi tied Rakhi to Lord Krishna.


One of the most popular stories of Raksha Bandhan in India is linked to the Mughal period when there was a struggle between Rajputs and the Mughals. Folklore has it that when the widowed Empress of Chittor, Karnavati, saw crisis in her state, she sent a Rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun and sought help to protect her state against the attack of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. According due respect to the thread that Karnavati had sent, Humayun immediately sent his army to Chittor to protect her.

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, also called Eid Qurban or Bakri-Eid, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year. The festive season that starts with the beginning of the monsoon continues and Muslims look forward to Eid al-Adha, also called Bakr Eid or Bakrid in India. Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al -Adha as the ‘festival of sacrifice.’ Bakrid is the second major Eid for the Muslims. While Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan, Bakrid is known to conclude the annual Haj pilgrimage. The date of Bakrid, according to the Islamic calendar, is supposed to be on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah or the ‘month of the pilgrimage’. Muslims usually go on pilgrimage on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of the month culminating in the Eid al-Adha. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

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Bakr Id/Eid ul-Adha is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on Eid al-Adha. Islamic stores, businesses, and other organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Those wishing to use public transport on the day may need to contact the local transport authorities to check on timetables. Large scale prayer meetings may cause local disruption to traffic. This is particularly true of areas of India with a predominantly Muslim population.

On Eid al-Adha, many Muslims pray and listen to a sermon at a mosque nearby. They also wear new clothes, visit friends and family. Many Muslims symbolically sacrifice a goat or a sheep as an act of Qurbani. Special food is prepared on Eid al-Adha and shared with relatives. A portion of the food is also distributed among the poor and needy. This represents the sheep that God sent to Ibrahim to sacrifice in place of his son. On this day, Muslims sacrifice a goat, a sheep, or any other animal to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to surrender his son Ismael to fulfill Allah’s command. Ibrahim was determined to do what Allah wanted him to do. And on the day when he decided to make the supreme sacrifice, Shaitan attempted to dissuade him, but he drove the evil away and proceeded further. Allah was pleased by his devotion, and a message was sent through Jibreel to Ibrahim. And the message granted life to Ismael and Ibrahim was asked to offer a sheep instead. Therefore, on this day, Muslims sacrifice an animal and divide the meat into three equal portions. They keep one for themselves while they give the other two away to relatives and the needy. Fasting on Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr is strictly forbidden. Eid al-Adha, or Bakrid, celebrations usually last for three days. The festival is celebrated with a lot of fervor among Muslims around the world. Although, the traditions may vary according to the country and its own local customs. The celebrations include visits to mosques and offering of prayers for peace and prosperity, as well as a special feast that mainly contains mutton preparations. Some of the most delicious Bakrid feast dishes include mutton biryani, mutton korma, mutton keema, bhuni kaleji, as well as a range of delectable desserts like sheer khurma and kheer.

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Since India celebrates a day after Saudi Arabia, except certain states, this year Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on August 1, a day after Saudi. However, Kerala, like Saudi, will celebrate on July 31. This year however celebrations are likely to be low key amid the coronavirus pandemic.  In Ahmedabad, for instance, animal sacrifice in public places or animal processions in the city have been prohibited. Given all the restrictions and safety measures on account of the coronavirus pandemic, Bakrid will only be celebrated with one’s direct family that one lives with, however, you can always wish your near and dear ones from a distance and not breach any safety measures.

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Rakshabandhan in 2020: How it is going to be different…

“There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” –Astrid Alauda

Rakshabandhan is popular, traditionally Hindu, annual rite, or ceremony, which is central to a festival of the same name, celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture. The festival is a festival of love, care, and happiness. It symbolizes the existing love between brother and sister. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

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Despite being a part of Hindu culture, due to its moral values, the festival is celebrated by other cultures as well. Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgment of their benefaction.

Every year, this festival has been awaited by all of us. It gives a chance for the celebration of a selfless and beautiful relation. For some families, this is the occasion where sisters get a chance (out of their busy schedule) to finally visit their brother and celebrate their love. The occasion begins from the previous day itself, with sisters buying beautiful rakhis and sweets for their brothers and applying Mehendi on their hands. Next early morning, both sisters and brothers dress up in new clothes. The sister ties Rakhi on brother’s hand offers him sweet and sings love songs for him depicting brother-sister relation. The brother then gives her sister a gift and along with that a promise of “protection against any problem in her life.”

Every year, this is the time when families travel to each others’ houses to celebrate the festival. But this time, the festival falls amid these harsh times when the whole world is standing against a pandemic, COVID-19. Rakshabandhan is the first major festival of Hindus after the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, it is a challenge for all of us to get along with the charm of the festival by taking all the precautions and by maintaining social distancing. This year, it is difficult for sisters to visit their brothers if they live in a different city or state. Each year, we can easily have a get-together and celebrate the festival. But, every year, we have our soldiers, policemen, doctors, workers who are away from their home, on their duty even during festivals for the service of their country. This time, we have got a very golden chance to serve our country and fight against the pandemic by staying at our homes. We can spread happiness and celebrate the festival with our police brothers, doctors, and nurses who are truly working as our safeguard for our protection. We can tie Rakhi out of respect to them, making them realize that they are true heroes and fulfilling the responsibilities of a brother.

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Apart from this, in this time of the internet, even though we are staying far, we are always connected through the internet. We are never apart. We can celebrate the festival over a video call. It will a new experience and it will be great fun. One more thing we need to remember that though some sisters are not able to go to their brother, due to pandemic, colleges and schools are closed. This brings young brothers and sisters together who usually don’t get holidays on Rakshabandhan when colleges run regularly. They must be together after a long time and enjoying the togetherness.

“As we grew up, my brothers acted like they didn’t care, but I always knew they looked out for me and were there!” – Catherine Pulsifer

Is Religion The Problem?

Humanity’s most vicious ambitions have been carried out in the name of gods no one has ever seen and beliefs followers are not willing to question and investigate. Until humankind learns to more closely examine their beliefs, wars waged in ignorance will continue to plague our species and prevent lasting peace.

If the emotions of one in need are like a hurricane, then religion needs to learn how to create the space a hurricane needs to slow and become calm. Rigid rules to such a person are like trying to nail down a hurricane. Guilt makes the winds blow all the harder. Only in moments of calm, when sought, will advice be of help – any other time it will add de- bris to the winds. There a time to actively help and a time to love quietly, trust yourself to sense the difference.

Religion initially commenced as a solution for the problems existing at that time, say 5000 BC. However, at some point in time, it started appearing as the pebble in the shoe of humanity and it’s progression . The anarchy, unprovoked killings and disorderly social structure needed a system, and religion got itself evolved. While it was evolved many others came forward with their own versions to super implant the existing ones. But their actions only increased the number of religions. We landed up with Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam etc. Since more religions came into existence, there were varieties to choose for the people. After having chosen, the people started propagating them. In their enthusiasm, they started negating the existing ones. This resulted in hatred, mistrust and hostility which ended up with problems for the state. Instead of being a solution religion has turned out to be a problem.

Religion is neither the problem nor the solution. The point is, religion was a vessel out from which human curiosity was able to spring, but it is also a tool of social control and thus is opposed to actual progress. It’s about faith and perception of it which is posing as the biggest problem in our country. Every single religion here has it’s own good and bad preachings. If one feels that his or her faith in a religion is far more truthful and look down upon remaining religions is nothing but adult way of showing you are having bigger scoop of ice creams than your friend, like we used to do when we were small kids. This is what happening in our country now, everyone wants to pretend that their faith is much greater than others which has lead to all sorts of quackery and blind modifications of original teachings given in our sacred books. Again by good teachings I meant, the one’s which brings happiness in every living being and doesn’t hurt even a single person at the cost of one’s satisfaction.

One thing most misused after horns in India is religion! Different religions became a problem in India from the day we forgot about our roots. India has always been a diverse nation, and religion accounts for a big diversification. Now you see the problem is, we are not educated. We might be literate but still we are not educated. There’s a big difference between the two! Politicians have always taken advantage of this. And they would continue this until and unless the masses themselves realize the mistake. If we, as the public masses, don’t realize this then soon we’ll be heading towards an authoritarian government which will forcefully assimilates all of the subcultures within it’s polity and create a syncretic identity. Such an orthodoxy that some people dream of would also dissolve the constitution that has given crucial rights to many people. For example, the constitution bans untouchability, which no Dharmashastra did before. The constitution has also given several fundamental rights that the orthodox do not see applicable in their “dharmic” framework. Theocratic societies have several such drawbacks.

So it’s better to focus on more important aspects of life rather than talking about religion at all times. It’s time to let go and rise above the outdated and cruel exploits of our past that we inherited from our ancestors, and realize that our early misinterpretations of our world do not have to define the future of humanity. We have grown. We have reached a time in our history where the misunderstandings of the past must be reconciled and the truth about the origins of our early beliefs must be revealed. It’s time that our world’s religions face the tragic horrors of their past and make honest progression towards love and kindness for all of humanity. Our world, our peace and our growth all depend upon us and our ability to move forward in our understanding. It’s time to embrace our humanity and cultivate the harmonious future we all deserve.

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Is Religion The Problem?

Science and God

“Science” and “God”, the two words which are often seen as separate entities. These words seem conflicting to most of us and are often a topic of debate. Science seems to question the existence of God and believers of God often question why we are unable to explain the entire universe completely by science to date, a question on the success of science. We can often come across debates on televisions, radio, magazines, etc where people try to prove one as superior over the other. But, are they really two different things? Are they conflicting terms? Or are they same?

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A deeper thought over it can clear our confusion. If we deep dig, we find that indeed both are the same. We really don’t need to choose between them. Science and God, are superior powers. The differences arise when we start associating God with some particular religion and Science with the only education. In reality, science is the process of thinking God’s thought after him. “An equation is really nothing unless it expresses a thought of God”, according to Ramanujan. They both actually merge at the spiritual level.

When we talk of science, it is the theories, the fundamental laws that very well explains the nature around us. It offers an explanation of all the natural phenomena in a very beautiful way and at a very basic level. It helped us understand how to converse in the language of nature, i.e in mathematics. It gives human power. The more we as humans understand science, the more powerful we become. Visit the days when humans started to understand science to get to know about the secrets of nature, the things they imagined then are now a reality. The gadgets they considered as their dreams are now in our hands. The technology we imagine today will also become a reality pretty soon. Science gave a power to humans to achieve the impossible.

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God, on the other hand, is another superiority. There has been no proper evidence of someone seeing a God. We have not seen God, but we all believe in a “power” that is superior to all of us and many refer to this superior power as “God”. God gives humans the strength and power by making us understand the language of love and humanity. Spirituality is the heart of a human being and through God, we reach here. God helps us understand our potential and make us believe in our strengths. It changes our perception and makes the world a very beautiful and peaceful place for us. The world is incomplete without God.

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We can thus conclude,  that both Science and God are a source of immense power to human beings and both are tied together. Both speak the same language. The more faith we develop in God, the more we get close to science, the more we understand science, our belief in the existence of God becomes stronger. Louis Pasteur rightly said that “a bit of science can distance us from God, but more of it nears one to him”, and that is for sure. Diving deep into them will give us immense power and peace.

Science Vs Religion

The relationship between science and religion has been a complicated one for a very long time. Science and religion are without a doubt mutually incompatible. In the seventeenth century, the doctrine of the motion of the earth was condemned by a Catholic tribunal. A hundred years ago the extension of time demanded by geological science distressed religious people, Protestant and Catholic. And to-day the doctrine of evolution is an equal stumbling block.

While in the late nineteenth century, after the publication of Darwin’s book on evolution. In the wake of the stir over Darwin’s idea that humans were descended from apes, some people on both sides tried to paint the other side as the enemy. Although at the time there were many people who believed in both science and religion, did not see a conflict between the two worlds, the hostilities view became deeply barricaded in many people’s minds, and it has continued to influence thinking throughout the twentieth century.

Although, there are many people of faiths and levels of scientific expertise who see no difference at all between science and religion. They just acknowledge that the two establishments deal with different domains of human expertise. Science investigates the natural world, while religion deals with the spiritual and supernatural hence, the two can be interconnected. It should also be taken into account that to be a scientist one does not have to be an atheist. There was a survey conducted in 2005 at top research universities, and it was found that more than 48% of the research fellows had some religious affiliations and more than 75% believed that religion conveys important revelations.

To sum up the debate between science and religion, it would be wise enough to say that the two have always had an edgy relationship. Even though most people have no problem accepting the norms of the two sides, there are political and media developments that have driven a wedge between the two sides.

Although the most balanced view is from `Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Baha’i faith:

Religion without science is superstition and science without religion is materialism.”

Women in Indian Society

Through mythology and religious texts

Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of male as the primary authority is central. It refers to a system where men have authority over women, children and property. As an institution of male rule and privilege, patriarchy is dependent on female subordination. Historically, it has manifested itself in the social, legal, political, and economic institutions of different cultures. Literally meaning ‘rule of fathers’(Ferguson, 1048), the term ‘patriarchy’ was initially used to refer to autocratic rule by the male head of a family. However, in modem times, it more generally refers to social system in which power is primarily held by adult men. 

Majority of religions have contributed their bit to perpetuate patriarchal norms. With such beliefs instilled into cultural mindset, women scarcely stand a chance of gaining strength in this male-dominated world. Patriarchy is also manifest in family traditions and gets reinforced through practices such as women adopting the surname of their husbands and children too carrying their father’s last name. 

There is considerable ambiguity about the status of women in Indian society. Some sacred texts accord them an exalted status by stating that gods live where women are worshipped. In her various manifestations as Mother Goddess, namely Durga, Kali, Chandi, woman is believed to represent power or Shakti, and evoke both fear and reverence. She can protect and at the same time can also wreak vengeance. If pleased, she can fulfil every wish, but when annoyed, she can unleash unimaginable terror. Male gods at times find themselves helpless before her and cannot dare to intervene especially when she has decided to act as power incarnate. Most of her attributes are believed to be embedded in every woman. However, there is yet another profile of woman established by religious writings and folklore wherein she is believed to be fickle and fragile. She is represented as sensuous, tempting, given to falsehood, folly, greed, impurity, and also thoughtless action. She is also regarded as the root of all evil. It is because of her supposedly inconsistent character that she has to be kept under strict control. Being fragile, she needs protection at all stages of her life, for instance, in childhood by her father, in youth by her husband, and in old age, after the husband’s death, by her sons. As evident, these two images are contradictory. 

The patrilineal Hindu society expects a woman to have certain virtues, chastity being one of them. Before marriage, a woman is not allowed to think of any man in sexual terms. Secondly, she has to be a devout wife—the notion of Pati-Parmeshwar or ‘husband as God’ reigning supreme in the popular mindset. Women observe several fasts to ensure that they get the same husband life after life. Such fasts also include prayers for the long life of the husband, so that the wife does not have to undergo the ‘sufferings’ of widowhood. The infertility of a woman is considered a curse as in patrilineal groups she is expected to produce a son to continue the patriarchal lineage. 

Rammohan Roy stands out as the figure who took a firm stand against the practice of Sati. Sati was the custom through which a woman was condemned and pressurised by society to sacrifice her life by dying alongside her husband on his funeral pyre. Lata Mani in her book ‘Contentious Traditions- The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, highlights that sati was not about whether the Vedic scriptures prescribed such self-immolation nor was it about the individual women’s wishes and desires. Rather, it was a part of the traditional behaviour that Indian women had internalised within themselves. Many of them saw it as an essential part of the ‘·’duty” expected from them as a good wife – to sacrifice her life in order that her husband could gain ultimate salvation. 

According to Hindu mythology, the Manusmriti is the word of Brahma, and it is classified as the most authoritative statement on Dharma. Manusmriti is considered as the divine code of conduct. Laws of Manu insist that since women by their very nature are disloyal they should be made dependent on men. The husband should be constantly worshipped as a God, which symbolized that man is a lord, master, owner, or provider and women were the subordinates. It legitimizes that a woman should never be made independent, as a daughter she should be under the surveillance of her father, as a wife of her husband and as a widow of her son (Chakravarti, 2006). While defending Manusmiriti, apologists often quote the verse: “yatr naryasto pojyantay, ramantay tatr devta”  that is “where women are provided place of honor, gods are pleased and reside there in that household”, but they deliberately forget the verses that are full of prejudice and hatred against women. 

These texts justify a woman’s inferior status in society. Each of these verses shows how the Brahmanical ideology reduces the character of a woman to the number of sexual partners she has, and her purpose as child-bearers. The obsession with knowing the lineage of offspring, virginity and the narrow definition of character led to the imposition of restrictions on women and artificially stunted their status. And much of this continues till today.

We celebrate Dussehra to mark the victory of ‘Good over Evil’, Navratri in the honour of nine Goddesses, Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon and worshiping Lakshmi on Diwali, we are decked up in festivities and celebrations. But do we really celebrate them? To find the answer to that question, you need to look no further than mythology and religious scriptures. It’s a clear indicator of what the fabric of society, its structure and norms would be like.  

The implementation of patriarchal norms and values depend to a great extent on the strength and weakness of control mechanisms. For instance, articulation of patriarchal values and the prescription of norms through religious texts command natural observance. At times, family honour is protected by wife-beating. It is all too visible in the lower classes, but also persists in upper strata of society. Even after six decades of independence, one frequently reads of bride burning and dowry deaths. Other forms of violence are: heaping indignities on the wife and her relations by the in-laws, making her do physical work beyond her capacity, failing to provide her adequate nutrition, and even torturing her mentally on several pretexts. Even highly educated and well-placed women are amenable to such maltreatment.