Rakhi: A symbolic bonding

Dr B. S. Bains argues why this day needs to be kept alive


By Dr B. S. Bains | Opinion |

Rakhi has been celebrated across the Indian continent for centuries on the full Moon day in the month of Sawan (August).

Just as, at the turn of this last century, symbolic celebrations were rooted out as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine day, Doctor’s Day, Nurses Day and so on. Similarly, the Indian continent has had this kind of celebration centuries since.  Today, in the modern pretext, it can be termed as Brother’s Day, which is popular under the name of Rakhi Bandhan Day (Rakhi Bonding).  Rakhi is thus a name given to a thread that is symbolic, tied to the brother’s hand or his closest possession; in a form of a knot that symbolizes strong bonding, relationship and togetherness.

In the past brothers were the next family support after their fathers.  They would be the one who would be the source of bread and butter to the family. They were always looked up upon by sisters.  In the past girls would marry young and having to start up a life away from home.  Brothers would travel long distances to meet them and comfort them and this brought about a strong sense of security to the sisters. 

There were no known birthday celebrations centuries ago as the mass public had no access to calendars in the Indian continent.  Calendars were astronomical in its form and the clergies of the temples would know the auspicious days of the month and it was their duty to announce such days to their respective communities.  Most of the festives were connected to astronomic readings based on the sun’s and the moon’s positioning.  These facts were related to religion and associated with prayers.  Infact, every home had no reach to music even, so the temples were the center of epitome to all happenings including Schooling (“Patshallas”).  Similarly Rakhi, however, was thus associated with the religion of those times, which was predominantly Hinduism.  Because such festives were related to the religion of those times, today the clergies of the younger religions like Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islamism and Christianity are not condoning to such festives. The respective clergies are creating guilt feeling amongst their faith community not to celebrate such events.   As a matter of fact these celebrations have nothing to do with religion.  Since, we have further divided human status into social and culture today, Rakhi Bandan, thus, should fall under these norms. It is only then these celebrations will see further development into every social set up, especially among the Indian Diaspora across the globe. 

Rakhi is a day dedicated to the brothers, a celebration initiated by sisters.  On this day, sisters would visit their brothers or in some families, brothers would get together to visit their sister’s home. For those women who do not have biological brothers, they may have somebody who would have stood by them in times of distress and may consider them as brothers; hence qualifying them for Rakhi.

Traditionally, the sisters would make special preparations, especially food liked by their brothers. A symbolic thread will be tied by the sisters on their brother’s wrist to show their love, affection and prayers for their good health and prosperity. In return the brothers will present them with gifts; either in the form of clothing, money or ornament.

This special day is a day of bonding, love, affection and a day to unify families.

Rakhi celebration is now getting urbanized, where various families from different ethnic and religious backgrounds celebrate this day with their respective method of prayers for the wellbeing of the brothers-sister bonding. Today, this festive could be called “Rakhi Bandan – A Brother-Sisters Day”.  This will then give no room for the modern days argument as to why should it be necessary to thank the brothers to protect their sisters as it is automatically there throughout.

I personally feel that this day needs to be kept alive as it’s all about spelling out the love and care of a sister to their brothers and vice versa.  This gives opportunities for the siblings to express the love among each other.  These moments of joy are to stay.  Keep it alive by way of Rakhi.


  1. https://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/raksha-bandhan-political-history-36919
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/drsarahbond/2016/10/01/the-history-of-the-birthday-and-the-roman-calendar/?sh=141bb6127bdc
  3. https://www.rakhi.in/history-of-rakhi.aspx
  4. https://www.fnp.com/article/raksha-bandhan

Dr Balwant Singh Bains is a Malaysia-based kirtan enthusiast and a practicing physiotherapist with a chain of physiotherapy clinics.


Sikh heritage and art drained over years in Punjab and Delhi (Asia Samachar, 25 April 2021)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond.Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. People, who not read or studied HURU Granth Sahib become victims of arbitrary festivals, and rituals due to being VICTIMS and left UNAWARE of the HIGHLY unique life e experiences laid out in GURBANI
    What can b said of such ignorance in fake and non practicalities of life?

    The author thought consumption of alcohol was the new nectar of life, wanted to litigate the writer !!!

  2. The social media has made it possible for just about anyone to re-define and give new names to antiquated beliefs and celebrations. What was originally a day to remind women across India that they needed their brothers to promise them their safety and protection – is being re-named as “brothers day” by Dr Bains. Tell us why India does not have a “sister’s day” Bains ji.
    Women across India needed no reminder on a once-a-year basis that they were the property – first of their fathers and then their husbands (that were determined by their fathers too). But they needed a reminder from their brothers as their protectors. These same brothers were not able to provide for their own safety and security – they let a band of Mughals and British occupy their lands for a thousand years.
    Bains is attempting to redefine a religious Rakhi Bhandan into a cultural one. He says “these celebrations have nothing to do with religion.” The Muslims are the second largest religion in the culture of India. The Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians in India are next. None of them celebrate it.
    Bains says that it is the clergy of these religions are to blame. He writes “today the clergies of the younger religions like Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islamism and Christianity are not condoning to such festivals.”
    If Rakhi Bandhan is being rejected anywhere by anyone – it is not because of any clergy. It is because women have called out the hypocrisy of it. My sisters told me they don’t need the Rakhi because they are capable of taking care of their safety and security. They told me to show them love by my actions on a 365 day basis. My sister told me “lots of people think they have done their part to save the world by switching off their electricity for half an hour on World’s Earth Day. But it’s what they do on 365 days that matters.”
    People who want to celebrate Rakhi Bandhan should do so. No one should be told not to celebrate it. But attempts to provide fake arguments and half-baked justifications for an archaic practice must be called out.