Yesterday I told you about Raksha Bandhan, yesterday’s celebration day. Today I would like to write a bit more about the religious meaning of this name. Raksha means protection and Bandhan is the binding. The meaning of this tradition is thus a reminder to the brother that he is the protector of the girl.
You know that I love and enjoy any kind of celebration that brings family and friends together to laugh, eat, sing and dance, to feel love for each other and to be happy. In this way I enjoy any reason to celebrate regardless the religious meaning behind it and even irrespective which religion that celebration is originated from. We celebrate Diwali and we celebrate Christmas, too – in an unreligious, very jolly matter.
In this way I also think Raksha Bandhan is a nice celebration that strengthens the love in between brothers and sisters. I do not however agree with the concept that is behind it, with the original meaning of it. I don’t see women as weak at all and don’t think they are people who need a protector at all times.
In Hinduism and maybe all other religions, too, women are always considered weak, less powerful, the soft gender and people who cannot protect themselves. Even Hindu scriptures say that a woman always needs protection. When she is young, she is protected by her father and her brothers, when she grows up, it is her husband who will protect her and when she gets old, her son will be there for her protection. So at any time, a woman needs someone to protect her. This is another reason why a woman needs a son – to have someone to protect her in her old age.
Unfortunately this kind of picture of the weak and even worthless woman is displayed in many parts of the scriptures and of course also shows in the common rituals that people do.
In Hinduism there is a word ‘Kanya Dan’. Kanya means girl and Dan means donation. This is a word used on the wedding day of a couple and it expresses how the father and brother donate a girl or woman to her husband. For me this sounds as though she is just a thing that can be passed on. There is another tradition in which you donate cows – is this in any way different? In a wedding this ‘Kanya Dan’ is however the most important part of the marriage ceremony.
In my eyes it is great that there is a celebration for brothers and sisters but I believe that men and woman should be seen as equal. In many situations women can be stronger than men. I am not talking only about the physical aspect but about all situations of life. A woman can be your protector emotionally for example. There is however also no doubt that some women are physically in no way weaker than men.
The main thing is a general attitude of gender equality. If you know this, it is fully fine to tie a wristband on your brother’s arm – but not to ask for protection but to remind of your connection of love.