How Rakhi Purnima Helped Me to Re-Think Sibling Relations

How Rakhi Purnima Helped Me to Re-Think Sibling Relations

My Experience at Rakhi Purnima

Last year, when I was on a trip to India, I happened to be there at the end of August, just in time to witness Rakhi Purnima (also sometimes called Raksha Bandhan or simply Rakhi) — a traditional festival celebrating sibling relationships. Now, it would be an exaggeration to say that this event turned my worldview upside down, but it certainly gave me much food for thought — even more so because it was the first time I heard about such festival.

Siblings Relationships in the West and in the East: Something to Compare

In the West, we rarely pay any special attention to the relationships between siblings — usually brothers and sisters are just people who happen to have the same parents. They tend to spend their early years together, while they still live under their parents’ roof, and then go their separate ways, rarely maintaining any kind of close, meaningful relationships except for occasional family get-togethers and Christmas cards.


The same goes for the relationships between children and parents — with the nuclear family being a standard, with high mobility being a necessary thing to get ahead in life, children and parents get more and more distant from each other in all senses. But in this case we at least recognize parent-children relationships as something special — we do have Father’s and Mother’s day, so we feel obliged to get in touch with our parents at least occasionally — which is not the case when it comes to siblings.

After drifting apart, brothers and sisters often don’t see or hear each other for years on end, nor do they feel obliged or willing to do so. Sibling relationships just aren’t regarded as all that important. There is a Siblings Day, of course, but it is a purely artificial holiday without deep-rooted cultural significance.


Not so Rakhi Purnima. On that day, sisters tie a sacred thread called rakhi on their brothers’ wrists — a gesture signifying the sister’s love and wish for the brother’s health and well-being and, conversely, brother’s vow and duty to protect and support the sister. Other ceremonies are involved: brother usually presents special rakhi gifts to the sister, they hug, feed each other, and sisters read prayers for the brother’s well-being and so on, but these details do vary depending on local customs.

For a Westerner, the entire procedure looks quite weird, even unnatural — yet the participants’ sentiments do seem to be genuine and not just a tribute to tradition. Although we are not, of course, taught to treat our siblings with a degree of alienation, it is just a sort of relationship that doesn’t feel like it calls for that degree of warmth. Siblings are just siblings, right?


The Western family is normally connected vertically, if connected at all. We keep in touch with our parents and children, but not nearly as much with siblings, and cousins and suchlike are often kind of not family at all. There is no idea of a larger, overarching family in our culture. And while one may speak for or against such an arrangement in terms of efficiency, one cannot but feel a certain longing or envy when looking at brothers and sisters taking part in Rakhi Purnima, exchanging gifts and vows of protection and seeing it as something absolutely natural.

There is something in Rakhi Purnima that calls to everyone of us, irrespective of religious confession — the idea that family is something far less abstract than we are used to believing, that a different kind of relationships between family members is possible. That, perhaps, it is time to find the phone number of your brother or sister you haven’t talked to for years and finally make that call.


Hope you enjoyed my article!

Featured photo credit: FeistyTortilla/ via

More by this author

Melissa Burns


Wealthy, Successful People Who Choose Less over More: 10 Real-Life Stories of Minimalists If You Want to Succeed in Life, You Need to Find Your True Calling First Why Do We All Feel Empty Sometimes Everything We Can Learn from the Most Famous Entrepreneurs Around the World YouTube Blogger 4 Pillars of Becoming a Successful YouTube Blogger

Trending in Communication

1 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 2 7 Most Difficult Languages In The World to Learn For English Speakers 3 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances 4 12 Signs You Are A Lifelong Learner 5 40 Ways to Achieve Peace Of Mind and Inner Calm

Read Next


Last Updated on June 19, 2019

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

2. Trust the Muse

Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.


When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

“The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

3. Remember to Be Authentic

Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.


How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.


Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful


6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

More About Living Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via

Read Next