Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand

Anglo Saxons, White men and non-Hindus do not have Raksha Bandhan festival, vows to protect sisters: they do not have Navratam, singing and dancing praises to women: they do not have multitudes of Goddesses who are revered before and above male deities, like Gauri-Shankar, Sita -Ram, Radhe-Shyam ,  Lakshmi -Vishnu, and so on.

Yet these non Hindu men, these Anglo Saxons and White men appear to have more respect and regard for women than Hindus and Indians with so many show-pieces and hullabaloo glorifying women. In real fact, we treat our women as trash and crap. Why this hypocrisy? Why do we Indians and Hindus have institutionalised discrimination against our sisters when our businesses make money on falsehood of Raksha Bandhan?

RAKSHA BANDHAN - Brotherly-Sisterly love:one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions.
The chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means 'a bond of protection', and Raksha Bandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil. 

Brotherly-Sisterly love and affection commences at a very early age. Where does all this disrespect for women in Indian males come from? Should not this trait remain forever? That is why, Raksha Bandhan festival should be used to re-inculcate and rekindle respect for all sister and all women
This Hindu festival will have little relevance to the theme of brotherly-sisterly love and respect for women if all what it involves is singing, dancing and a platform for speeches by politicians. And an avenue for Indian businesses to sell more sarees and Indian media to have an avenue to make more advertising dollars.

To the brothers, who has Rakhi tied to their hands, and who vow to protect their sisters, I have one question for them: You vow to protect your sister, but who protects my sister - your wife?

Sisters, when you tie the sacred thread, Rakhi on your brothers’hands, please ask them not only to vow to protect you, but your Bhabhis (sister-in-laws) – their wives as well, because they also are somebody’s sister.

This is especially relevant because Indians in general and Hindus in particular hold the relationship of a brother and sister in high esteem, which supposedly signifies respect for sisters – the women. To Indian brothers, while your married sister is someone else’s wife, at the same time, your wife happens to be someone else’s sister. Hence there is a commonsense reason for reciprocity if one wants to protect sisters. What this means is that for your sister to be respected and protected, you need to do the same to your wife who is somebody else’s sister.

Bollywood has glorified brotherly-Sisterly love. The leading one is Dev Anand's "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" which immortalised this love with melodious song: Phulo ka taro ka sab ka kehna hai.
But is this happening? We reportedly have high incidents of family violence in India and amongst Indian migrants to New Zealand. It therefore came as no surprise to me that Hota, one supposedly combined group of Hindu organisations and temples, when they are blaming Indian Newslink for publishing a research report they see derogatory to Hindus. That research by Massey University shows that Indians in general and Hindus in particular are biggest woman beaters in Auckland. 

I believe that, as that is a fact. Hospital records, police statistics and Ministry of Social Development figures substantiate this. Through this concerns, in 2010, Waitakere Indian Association held a joint workshop with these organisations to tackle this problem.Rather than yipping like puppies on steroids, these Hindu organisations will be better -off to inculcate better respect for women among Hindus in New Zealand. What they learn from multitudes of Swamis visiting NZ, they need to practice in life. Rather than running with a bruised ego, these people need to inculcate better respect for women within their community.

That is all Raksha bandhan is all about. 

History of Raksha Bandhan extends to mythological times of Lord Krishn and Draupadi and to Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun, which dates back to 1535. The central ceremony involves the tying of a Rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. That is Raksha Bandhan.

Another Bollywood Brotherly-sisterly love: Feroz Khan and Kum Kum. The root of Rakhi can be traced to Mahabharat and Mughal Raj

Some years ago, when the highly acclaimed Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, was played on TV, it covered the topic of family violence, still quite relevant to Indo-Fijian migrants and Indians in general. 

For countless women, entering married life often means the beginning of a stressful, violent existence. Beating one's wife seems to be ingrained in many men's mindsets as the appropriate behaviour for a strong male, but the consequences are misery for the wife and children, and often a broken, unhappy home.

The show conducted a survey which showed that women are NOT in the biggest danger in public places, but while in their own homes. That is not only confined to India but among Indo-Fijians in New Zealand as well.

The issue we have is for Hindu and Indian groups to recognize the problem and address the vice, because richness in our culture on respect for sisters and women seem to be inversely related to how we actually treat them. 

In fact, for celebration of Raksha Bandhan, my suggestion would be to pass a message to our community to address the issue about respect for women and family violence. This is because celebrations are good avenues for addressing social issues in the community. Therefore sisters, when you tie the sacred thread, Rakhi on your brothers’ hands, please ask them not only to vow to protect you, but your Bhabhis (sister-in-laws) – their wives as well, because they also are somebody’s sister.

Therefore I plead to all brothers to accept this theme and slogan for Raksha Bandhan with all other brothers in a spirit of reciprocity:

Tumhari bahen ka main rakshak mere ghar mein, meri bahen ka tu rakshak apne ghar mein. In other words, I request all brothers to take this pledge with other males: I vow to protect your sister (my wife) in my home, please protect my sister (your wife) in your home. If we regards all wives as somebody's sister, and protect her, there would be no family violence.

Tragedy for Indians is that while they pledge to protect their own sisters, then why do they openly abuse sisters of others. If we took the theme of Raksha Bandhan to protect sisters, that translates to respect for women. Then why are women so much abused and dishonoured in India? Are our festivals only a sham and show piece , without any meaning?
We cannot continue to happily celebrate Raksha Bandhan while our sisters get beaten up by their husbands behind closed doors in their own homes, without community taking any positive action.

Let us all join in the spirit of Raksha Bandhan to respect all women, and introduce social theme for betterment of our women. Happy Raksha Bandhan to all.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh advocates change in community attitudes towards festivals we celebrate, to address issues in our communities. Thakur runs blo site, FIJI PUNDIT. ]

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