Sunday, August 9, 2009

Raksha Bandhan

A strong sibling bond

Three smiling kids after tying Rakhi

Maddie tying Max Rup's Rakhi

Maddie tying Myles' Rakhi

Myles and Max Rup tying Maddie's Rakhi
India has a LOT of holidays. We cannot possibly keep up with all of them, but we do feel it is important to celebrate our sons' culture. We have chosen Raksha Bandhan as the time to do this every year. Here is a brief description of this sweet holiday:
"The annual 'festival' of Raksha Bandhan, which is meant to commemorate the abiding ties between siblings of opposite sex, usually takes place in late August, and is marked by a very simple ceremony in which a woman ties a rakhi — which may be a colorful thread, a simple bracelet, or a decorative string — around the wrist of her brother(s). The word 'raksha' signifies protection, and 'bandhan' is an association signifying an enduring sort of bond; and so, when a woman ties a rakhi around the wrist of her brother, she signifies her loving attachment to him. He, likewise, recognizes the special bonds between them, and by extending his wrist forward, he in fact extends the hand of his protection over her. The thread-tying ceremony is sometimes preceded by the woman conducting aarti before her brother, so that the blessings of God may be showered upon him, and this is to the accompaniment of her enunciation or chanting of a mantra, which may be in Sanskrit or one of the other Indian languages. In Punjabi, for instance, the mantra says: 'Suraj shakhan chhodian / Mooli chhodia beej / Behen ne rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee', which can be roughly translated as follows: 'The sun radiates its sunlight / the radish seeds / I (the sister) tied the rakhi / brother, may you live long.' After the conclusion of the ceremony, she places a sweet in her mouth, and he might return the gesture. The brother bestows a small gift upon his sister."
We use this day to play Indian music, talk about the country, and it's people. We cook a huge Indian meal, and then our children exchange Rakhi. Traditionally, the brothers receive Rakhi from their sisters, and present their sisters with other small gifts, but Maddie loves the idea of the Rakhi, so our boys present her with one as well. The kids donned their Indian outfits for the exchange, and we also tried some Bengali sweets this year.
This year I also attempted to cook some of the meal from scratch. This is no small feat considering #1 - I am not a chef nor do I enjoy pretending to be, and #2 - it is difficult to find a lot of the ingredients used in Indian fare in this area. But we managed, and I think it came out alright.
I get emotional on days like this when we really focus on the boys' roots, etc. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to expand our family this way. We have been so enriched by the experience, and these days make me think of the people in their lives before us. I think of their birth parents, the amazing Ayahs. This year I missed Mason Probal like crazy, and thought about having 4 kids by the lake next summer. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make these days and traditions special because I feel a huge responsibility to make sure my boys know how proud we are of their heritage, and that we never want to forget any part of it.


Emily said...

I know what you mean about the responsiblity/pressure we put on ourselves for showing our respect for their heritage/birth families - I feel it and have spoken with other adoptive parents who feel the same way. What a good idea to pick one holidy in particular - we should do that too (outside of adoption day, etc). Loved the pictures!

Amy said...

Beautiful pics and wonderful tradition. I know your kiddos will appreciate the efforts you have made to celebrate their culture :)

Peter and Nancy said...

Did you make your own bracelets? Cute! I love this holiday, and the kids seem to think it's pretty neat, too. It's the only one that is all about siblings. :o)
-- Nancy

Kristi W. said...

I'd love to know where you got your bracelets. I picked up some from a craft store but they weren't nearly as cute as yours! Thanks for sharing your pics, your kiddos are beautiful. Love their outfits, too! Happy Rakhi!

:)Kristi W.

Anonymous said...

I love that you pick this holiday. Family is so important, and to expand this cultural aspect to your children is wonderful. It was so nice to see them celebrate this. I also watched the other children who were here as your kids shared this experience with them, they were all totally engaged in learning about Max Rup and Probal's culture. By the way, you did a great job with the Indian food.

Sheri said...

great pictures!! I had our nanny do it with our kids on Raksha Bandhan. We were in Equador. We are still planning on doing it another day, so my husband can tie his from his sisters in India!!

Julie & Patrick said...

I love this tradition too! Looks like your family was totally into it and the significance of the bracelets. What did you prepare for the meal? I'm sure it was fantastic too.

Julie R

Pam said...

Awesome! Great pics the kids look great! Wish I could have tasted some of that food! :)

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