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Raksha Bhandan

Today [18 Aug 2016 ]the Hindu community of Goa will celebrate three festivals – Raksha Bhandan, Narali Purnima and Sutachi Punav. Here are a few details about all the celebrations
Maria De Lourdes Bravo Da Costa Rodrigues
On Thursday, the full moon night (purnima), the Hindu community of Goa will celebrate three festivals – Raksha Bhandan, Narali Purnima and Sutachi Punav.
The first festival is very popular and is celebrated by most of the Hindus without cast or creed. On this day sisters will tie rakhis on the wrist of their brothers. It is not only a celebration amongst the blood brothers and sisters but there are many girls who adopt their best friends as their rakhi brothers. Sometimes this friendship goes beyond the religious boundaries, with rakhi brothers being Catholics or Muslims among others. The rakhis are tied once a year. Traditionally rakhis were made of soft thread which was dipped in haldi powder to colour it. Tiny bundles, one each, of rice, gold and mustard were tied to the thread. In modern times one can find rakhis in different types, sizes, colours, materials that are made commercially.
The rakhi is carried in a plate along with sweets. The sister applies the vermillion, haldi and rice powder on the forehead of the brother, before tying the rakhi and then offers him sweets. The sister prays for her brother’s good health and happiness who in return offers a gift or money. The Konkani Vishwa Kosh tells that Indra was fighting a war against the rakshas (demons) and he was losing it. However, Indrani, his wife, tied a thread around Indra’s wrist. This gave him strength and protection that helped him defeat his enemies. The worth of the thread lasted only for a one year and hence the rakshas waited for the period to end to attack Indra again. However, the thread was renewed every year which kept him under protected. It is in this context that every year a sister ties a rakhi on the wrist of her brother to keep him protected.
During Narali Purnima also called Nalla Punav the women folk of the fisher folk community in Goa perform a puja in order to appease Varun, the sea God. This is done to seek his blessings and protect the men who are at risk while sailing. The family prays that the men return safely and also come with their nets full. The women gather at the shore and offer prayers to the sea. After this an aarti is offered with oil lamps and the man will offer a coconut and the blessed thread to the sea. In some places where there is a big fisher folk community, like Betul, Canacona the women come dancing with the idol on their head and dance on the shore before the puja and aarti is performed. It is believed that after the puja and offering of the coconut, the sea is calm.
The Sutachi Punav is celebrated on the same day. The eldest man in the family will perform a puja by offering flowers to the idols in the house, and will bless the thread. The blessed thread will then be given to all the male members of the house, who will wear it across their torso. Small loops made out of sacred thread are used on the utensils, a book, grinding stone and other important items in the house. This is especially observed by those belonging to different castes, such as the Brahmins, GSBs, Goldsmiths, Charis and Wanis. In case of the five mentioned here, the males perform the thread ceremony in their childhood and wear the sacred thread throughout, only changing them once a year on this day. This thread is called ‘zanve’. The others will use the sacred thread for only one day or till the celebrations of Janmashtami, when they would release them into the water. [NT]