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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Rakhi, the Sister's Day in India

The image “http://www.tudo.co.uk/journalism_ashutosh_vardhana/shell/contents/raksha_bandan/images_raksha_bandan/tying_the_rakhi_orig.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Rakhi, the Sister's Day, is celebrated in India to symbolize the love and emotional bond between brothers and sisters. It is a festival rooted in the Indian tradition and reaffirms the pious relationship. The sisters tie the sacred thread around wrist of their brothers to protect them from any possible evil, and the brothers give gifts in return and promise to be there for them. Rakhi can be made of colorful cotton, silk or zari threads. Rakhi is celebrated with lots of fun and frolic. Besides the ritual of tying Rakhi, there is the real enjoyment in sisters and brothers getting together, exchanging gifts and relishing tempting and mouth-watering sweets of all sorts. This makes Rakhi festival interesting for everyone in the family.

The passing of time and the concept of multi-cultural society has influenced the festival to enlarge its scope and widen the ways of celebrating it. Today tying of Rakhi is not confined to the siblings alone. Rakhi can be tied to anyone by a woman whom she takes to be her brother. Soldiers in the battlefield receive the sacred Rakhi with wishes for their victory and safe return. Rakhi is also a day for women to visit the orphanages or prisons to tie Rakhi to the inmates. The kind act gives the ill fated Rakhi brothers a feeling of Hope, Love and Care. Rakhi, indeed, stirs up one of the deepest and noblest emotions in the human heart. The simple Rakhi thread motivates the brother to make any sacrifice to help his sister in need.

The oldest historical reference to the festival of Rakhi goes back to 300 B.C. at the time when Alexander invaded India. It is said that when the great conquerer, king Alexander of Macedonia was shaken by the fury of the Indian king Puru, Alexander's wife, who had heard of the Rakhi festival, approached the mighty king Puru and sought assurance of her husband's life by tying the Rakhi on Puru's hand. The story goes that just as Puru raised his hand to deliver a mortal blow to Alexander, he saw the Rakhi on his wrist and refrained from striking at Alexander.

During the midieval era, Rajput kings were fighting Muslim invasions. When Rani Karnawati, the widowed queen of Chittor, realized that she could in no way defend the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a Rakhi to the Mughal Emperor Humayun, enlisting his support against the onslaught of the Gujarat Sultan. Touched by the gesture, Humayun hastened to the rescue of his Rakhi sister.

Rakhi this year falls on Friday 19th August, and the excitement for the celebration has already started. Since the emotional binding between brothers and sisters is universal, Rakhi, or the Sister's Day as we can call it, deserves to be celebrated universally like Mother's Day or Father's Day. It may happen sooner than later, if Hallmark, Archies and the like of them decide to add another Day to the list of events they promote with their creations of globly popular greeting cards.

Happy Rakhi to Sisters and Brothers!