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Rakhi in Kolkata

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan in Kolkata is celebrated with charm and joy. Although Rakhi it is not the most important festival in Calcutta city yet people make it a point to celebrate the jolly occasion in the traditional manner and spirit. Here too, sisters' tie sacred thread of Rakhi on the wrist of their brother and pray for their well being and happiness. Yet, there is something that makes Raksha Bandhan celebrations in Kolkata beautifully different from the Rakhi celebrations seen in rest of country and that is the magical influence of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Rakhi Celebration by Rabindranath Tagore
In West Bengal, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore utilized the immense socio-culture significance of Raksha Bandhan festival to infuse the feeling of nationalism amongst the people from different ethnic backgrounds. During the crisis period of partition of Bengal in 1905, Rabindranath Tagore suggested the use of 'Rakhi Bandhan' to create a sense of brotherhood amongst the people and give them the courage to tide over the crisis period. Following his suggestion, the simple yet meaningful ceremony of tying Raksha round the wrist spread throughout the state of West Bengal. People of all communities rich and poor joined together in hearts and protested against the authority.

This historic celebration of Rakhi has now become an integral part of Raksha Bandhan celebrations in West Bengal. Rakhi Utsavs are organized in several colleges in Kolkata. Students celebrate the occasion by singing Rabindra Sangeet and reciting his poems. Students then tie Rakhi on each other's wrist and also on the wrist of their teachers to bring in the feeling of camaraderie and love. Sweets are distributed and people pledge to be on each others side at all times. Several social and cultural organizations also organize Rakhi celebrations to carry forward the noble tradition started by Gurudev.

Rakhi Celebrations in Homes
Besides celebrations in colleges and clubs, Raksha Bandhan festival is joyfully celebrated in homes in Kolkata. It may be noted that although Raksha Bandhan is not the major festival of Kolkata brothers and sisters enthusiastically wait for the festival and celebrate it in the traditional manner. A parallel festival, Bhai Phota, better known as Bhai Dooj in North India receives more importance in West Bengal. Just as Rakhi, Bhai Dooj Festival also glorifies the beauty and sanctity of brother-sister relationship. The only difference is the method of celebration and time when it falls.

Celebrating Raksha Bandhan sisters' in Calcutta tie the sacred thread of Rakhi on the wrist of their brother and perform arti of him. In Kolkata sisters' apply a chandan (sandalwood) Tilak on their brother's forehead whereas in North India, sisters apply sacred red tilak on their brother's forehead. Following the ceremony brothers and sisters exchange Rakhi Gifts with each other and promise to be on each other's side always.



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