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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Hope you enjoyed my article!

Featured photo credit: FeistyTortilla/flickr.com via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. It’s important to take time out and remember all of the things to be thankful for that many of us take for granted.

    Here you’ll find 60 very solid things to be thankful for in your everyday life. These are great reminders for you to treasure everything you have.

    1. Good Health

    Even if you’re health isn’t great, it could be worse and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for.

    2. Money in the Bank

    Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.

    3. Good Friends

    Often, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity.

    4. Freedom of Religion

    Being able to worship whomever and however you want is something many people don’t ever experience.

    5. Your Parents

    Even if they’re dysfunctional, they gave you life.

    6. Weekends

    There’s something magical about weekends.

    7.Having a Partner

    Being in a romantic relationship can teach you so much about the world and yourself.

    8. Pets

    Pets offer one of the best examples of unconditional love.

    9. Learning from Mistakes

    If we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

    10. Opportunity to Get an Education

    The opportunity to attend school is something many people don’t have.

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    11. Having a Home

    Whether you live in an apartment, a mansion, or a tent, having a place to call home is something to be thankful for.

    12. An Ability to Read

    If you’re reading this right now, you have a lot to be thankful for.

    13. Breathing Fresh Air

    Being able to step outside to breathe in fresh air is a good reminder how many little things we should be thankful for.

    14. A Bed to Sleep

    A bed is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, until you don’t have one.

    15. Laughter

    Without laughter, the world would be a sad place.

    16. Safety and Security

    Being able to wake up without immense fear frees us up to really live life.

    17. Cars

    Without cars, it would take a lot longer to get our activities done.

    18. Sunshine

    The sun’s warmth can brighten any day.

    19. Time

    Although we often don’t think there’s enough of it, time is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

    20. Clean Water

    Many people on earth lack access to clean water.

    21. Cell Phones

    Cell phones make talking to loved ones easy.

    22. Love

    The world sure would be a different place if we lacked the ability to love.

    23. Books

    Books provide an opportunity to enter another world all from the comfort of your own home.

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    24. Kindness of Strangers

    Never take the kindness of a stranger for granted.

    25. Campfires

    The simplicity of a campfire creates lifelong memories.

    26. Pain

    Without pain, it would be difficulty to appreciate life’s joys.

    27. Art

    The world would be less beautiful if art didn’t exist.

    28. Holidays

    Any reason to celebrate is something we should be thankful for.

    29. Freedom of Speech

    Being able to express your thoughts and feelings freely should never be taken for granted.

    30. Rainbows

    The beauty of a rainbow is unmatched.

    31. Tears

    Sometimes when there are no words to say, tears express how we feel for us.

    32. Waking up Today

    Simply waking up today means you have things to be thankful for.

    33. Indoor Plumbing

    Indoor plumbing not only provides convenience, it spares us from disease.

    34. Wisdom that Comes with Age

    Thankfully, we grow smarter over time.

    35. Mountains

    Mountains provide us with beauty and recreation.

    36. Eyesight

    Being able to see allows us to view the world’s beauty.

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    37. Grocery Stores

    Grocery stores mean we don’t have to spend all of our time getting our own food.

    38. Sunsets

    Sunsets are a reminder that we should enjoy the simple things in life.

    39. Entertainment

    Entertainment gives us a way to relax and enjoy life.

    40. Your Mind

    Being able to think, remember, and solve problems sure makes life easier.

    41. Employment

    Even if you don’t like your job, being employed means someone thought you were special enough to hire.

    42. Diversity

    The world would be a boring place without diversity.

    43. Moon and Stars

    The moon and stars encourage us to dream.

    44. Electricity

    Electricity makes most of our chores efficient.

    45. Air Conditioning

    Staying cool on a hot day is something people wouldn’t have dreamed about in past centuries.

    46. Hearing

    Being able to hear your loved one’s voice is something that not everyone gets to do.

    47. Children

    Watching children laugh, grow, and dream can keep things in perspective.

    48. Ability to Learn

    The ability to learn new things means we have endless potential.

    49. People Willing to Teach

    Whether it’s your grandmother teaching you to knit or your plumber showing you how to prevent future problems, be grateful that others are willing to use their time and talents to teach you something new.

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    50. Oceans

    The sea creatures in the ocean almost seem too mystical to be real.

    51. Modern Medicine

    Without advances in modern medicine, many of us wouldn’t be alive.

    52. Music

    Music brings out new emotions.

    53. Entrepreneurs

    Some of life’s best inventions resulted from an entrepreneur who was willing to take a risk.

    54. Warm Clothing

    On a cold day, there’s nothing more important than warm clothing.

    55. Freedom to Vote

    Being able to have a say in the laws should never be taken for granted.

    56. An Internet Connection

    It’s hard to believe how easy it is to take the internet for granted, seeing how none of us had just a couple of decades ago.

    57. Challenges

    Without challenges in life, we wouldn’t be the people we are now.

    58. Hiking Trails

    Hiking trails give us the chance to enjoy mother’s nature beauty.

    59. Vaccines

    Many of us wouldn’t be alive without today’s vaccinations.

    60. Armed Forces

    Our lives would likely be very different if we didn’t have protection from the armed forces.

    Realizing all the things you should be thankful for is the first step, practicing gratitude is what you should start doing:

    6 Ways To Implement More Gratitude In Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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