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Raksha Bandhan

To reflect upon sibling relationships with reference to the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect upon sibling relationships with reference to the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan.

Preparation and materials

  • This is a moveable feast, which is held in the month of Shravan, normally August.

  • A bracelet (or watch) of sentimental value. Alternatively, the theme could be introduced with some charity wristbands and friendship bands.
  • Pupils of Hindu faith might be invited to explain the traditions and significance of this festival and to display a rakhi (‘sacred thread’). Alternatively, a rakhi might be purchased locally or through the Internet
  • Photographs of family celebrations and tying a rakhi might also be obtained from the Internet (copyright permitting).
  • (Optional) Prepare some children to read statements affirming family ties (see section 5).
  • If used during the last week of the school year, this assembly might include the presentation of friendship bands, crafted in the school colours, to all leavers (see section 6).

Assembly

  1. Introduce the assembly by showing the bracelet of sentimental value. Who presented it? What ties of friendship and kinship does it reflect?

    Alternatively, display the wristbands. Explain their significance – that they are bought and worn to demonstrate support for good causes and campaigns. Refer to the practice of making and exchanging friendship bands.

  2. The festival of Raksha Bandhan, which is celebrated in Hindu (also some Sikh) communities across the world, is a special time when brothers and sisters show love and care for one another.

    Invite those of Hindu faith to describe home traditions and ceremonies.

    A sister ties a colourful bracelet, called a rakhi, around her brother’s right wrist. This represents her love and prayers for her brother. It means that she will always pray that God will keep her brother safe. She uses red powder to make a mark on her brother’s forehead. This is a sign of blessing, a tilak.

    In return, the brother promises to look after his sister and protect her throughout her life. He gives his sister a gift of money or jewellery.

    They give each other sweets to eat.

    If a sister has no brother, she will give a rakhi to a cousin, or to a friend, as long as he is prepared to make the same life-long commitment.

    The word raksha means ‘protection’ and bandhan means ‘to tie’. Raksha Bandhan is a festival that strengthens family ties. Many women send rakhis to brothers who live far away.

  3. A number of stories explain how this popular festival began.

    One tells of a fierce war between good and evil, when the demon king, Bali, fought Indra, king of the gods. Indra was driven out of his kingdom and feared that he might be beaten. His wife, Indrani, prayed for help. Lord Vishnu gave her a silk bracelet to tie around Indra’s wrist. She was promised that it would keep him safe. The promise came true. When Indra and Bali fought again, the bracelet protected Indra. The demons were overcome and Indra won his kingdom back.

  4. If appropriate, refer to the school holidays. Children will be spending time at home with brothers and sisters. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes brothers and sisters argue or become jealous of one another. In family life we have to learn understanding and patience.

    Invite the school community to think about how they will care for one another during the school holidays. What might they do to keep one another safe? Reflect upon the importance of road safety and avoiding hazardous play areas.

  5. Observe that some of the children will know how difficult it is to be parted from brothers and sisters. Invite members of the school community to affirm family ties with phrases such as: ‘I appreciate my brother because . . .’; ‘I care about my sister because . . .’ (Contributions might be prepared beforehand or arise spontaneously.)

  6. Refer to those who will soon be moving to new schools. The support and prayers of brothers, sisters and friends can mean a great deal. (Presentations might be made at this point in the assembly.)

  7. Conclude with the thought that whatever our faith, Raksha Bandhan shows how belief in God and concern for one another can bind us together and make us strong.

Time for reflection

Be thankful for family ties.

Pray for God’s blessing and protection upon those who are close to you.

Song/music

‘Together’ (Songs for Every Assembly, Out of the Ark Music)
‘I belong to a family’ (Come and Praise, 69)

Publication date: August 2012   (Vol.14 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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