The fifth episode of Youth Dialogue introduced the festival “Janai Purnima & Rakshya Bandhan” and three guests were invited to talk about the festival. The guests were Mr. Krishna Prasad Dangal, Mr. Suman Gautam and Mr. Saujan Bindukar. The main talk of the dialogue was to discuss about the significance of the festival and lastly story telling was done related to Rakshya Bandhan. The session was moderated by Ms. Saru Pyakurel. Here are some highlights of the discussion.
How do you celebrate this day? What do you like the most about this festival?
Mr. Krishna said he woke up early, took bath, visited nearby Shiva temple and changed his “Janai” which is a sacred thread. He also said he was with his family and celebrated the day eating good tasty food like Sel Roti and also “Kwati”, which is a mixed soup of nine types of sprouted beans.
Mr. Suman explained that Janai Purnima is a Hindu festival celebrated all over the country, with family get together and feasts of Kwati or sprout lentils. This day is also a harbinger of rejuvenation with Hindu men renewing their Janai and people flocking to Shiva temples in different parts of the country.
Mr. Saujan said he woke up, had Kwati with family and had to come office because it was not a public holiday.
What is the most beautiful memory you have regarding this festival?
Mr. Krishna remembered that when he was a small kid, he was brought up in a Tamang community where the people used to play the instrument “Dhyangro”. They used to be in a group, play “Dhyangro” and visit the nearby temple. He recalled that he used to follow them and they gave him Prasad, money and blessings too. He said that Janai Purnima related memories are more special during his stay in village.
Mr. Suman said he has his elder brother but no own sister. But for Rakshya Bandhan, he always travelled hours to get Rakhi tied from his cousin sister. So, he finds this memory really special because it’s what a brother sister bond is all about.
Mr. Saujan said the best way of celebration of Janai Purnima and Rakshya Bandhan is family gathering. He feels great when family members, relatives gather, spend quality time and collect memories.
What is the cultural significance regarding this festival?
Mr. Suman explained the importance of Janai, the sacred thread which relates the festival. He said this thread is only worn by males who have performed a religious ceremony called Bratabandhan. Bratabandhan is a Hindu ceremony which is performed as a symbolic representation that a boy has reached the age of manhood and is ready to follow the rules of following the religion faithfully. In Janai, there are three cords, which symbolize body, speech, and mind and when the three knots have tied the one who wears is supposed to have gained completed control over each of the symbols.
Mr. Krishna said a large number of Brahmins go at the holy riverbanks. They take ritual dips in the water and offer ablution to the gods. They then change their sacred threads. Brahman priests tie yellow sacred threads around the wrists of the faithful. He basically highlighted Gayatri Mantra when uttered while changing Janai brings positive energy and this festival signifies purity.
Mr. Saujan said he belongs to Newar community and there is no culture of wearing Janai. However, he ties a yellow sacred thread around the wrists and he says it is worn for their own protection. They believe doro brings them good luck, when one believes, that always becomes true. People keep the doro tied in wrist till on Laxmi Puja day in Deepawali. This thread is then taken out from wrist and tied on the tail of a cow in the cow worship day (Laxmi Puja) in about October. Hindu believes that they have to cross a river Baitarani after death to reach heaven. It is believed the cow will help him/her to cross the river Baitarani, by allowing the dead to cling to her tail, if he/she ties the doro to the tail of a cow on Laxmi Puja day.
What can be done to protect our culture and traditions?
Mr. Krishna said generation gap can be the major hindrance when it comes to protection of culture and tradition. However he said the culture is preserved in our country because the parents transfer it to their kids and they learn it through their parents.
Mr. Suman also agreed to what Mr. Krishna said. He added the older ones in the family needs to have abundant information about any festival which has cultural and historical significance and they should teach their future generation about values and significance of the festival.
Mr. Saujan also said the future generation needs to follow the instruction of their parents and preserve the culture and traditions and also understand its values.
Story Telling regarding Rakshya Bandhan
Mr. Suman shared a story about King Bali and Goddess Laxmi. It is as follows: According to a legend, the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had taken up the task to guard his kingdom leaving his own home in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi wished to be with her lord back in her abode. She went to Bali disguised as a woman to seek refuge till her husband came back. During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread to the King. Upon being asked, she revealed who she was and why she was there. The king was touched by her goodwill for his family and her purpose and requested the Lord to accompany her. He sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus the festival is also called Baleva that is Bali Raja’s devotion to the Lord. It is said that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters in Shravan Purnima for the thread tying ceremony or the Rakshya Bandhan.
Krishna and Draupadi
Another incident is from the epic Mahabharat and concerns Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. She had once torn a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna’s wrist to stop the bleeding from a battlefield wound. Krishna was touched by her action and declared her to be his sister, even though they were unrelated. He promised to repay the debt and then spent the next 25 years doing just that. Draupadi, inspite of being married to 5 great warriors and being a daughter of a powerful monarch, trusted and depended wholly on Krishna. Krishna repaid the debt of love during the “Cheer-Haran” (literally “clothing-robbing”) of Draupadi, which occurred in the assembly of King Dhritarastra when Pandavas lost her to the Kauravas in gambling. At that time, Krishna indefinitely extended her saree through divine intervention, so it could not be removed, to save her honor. This is how he honored his rakhi-vow towards Draupadi.
Lord Ganesh had two sons, Shubh and Labh. On Rakshya Bandhan, Ganesh’s sister visited and tied a rakhi on Ganesh’s wrist. Feeling deprived, the sons immediately began pressing Ganesh and his two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, for a sister. Finally, Ganesh agreed to fulfill the demand and Santoshi Ma (The Mother Goddess of Satisfaction) was created by divine flames that emerged from Riddhi and Siddhi.
Nepal is a secular country. What kind of Unity do you see regarding festival celebration?
Mr. Suman said Nepal has Unity in Diversity. A person can’t live alone so he lives in a family. Many families’ makes a society where people need to interact with each other, help one another in times of need and also share festivals and live in harmony. It develops Unity between the different culture and religious group. He added he was invited by Muslim brothers for ID celebration and Muslim brother also enjoy and celebrate Hindu festivals. In this way, we are able to live in Unity and also preserve secularism in our country.
Mr. Saujan added there exist beautiful cultural sharing between the people. He gave an example of “Kwati”, which is eaten during Janai Purnima. He said before it was only eaten by Newar community. But every group of people has culture of eating “Kwati” on this specific day nowadays.
So, a beautiful interaction completed which was about “Janai Purnima & Rakshya Bandhan.”
——– Saru Pyakurel