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Lunar eclipse delays Raksha Bandhan festivities for a day

Lunar eclipse delays Raksha Bandhan festivities for a day

KARACHI: The sweet Hindu festival of Rakhsha Bandhan, celebrating sisterly love for brothers, had to be put off for a day due to a partial lunar eclipse on Monday.

Still, like the partial eclipse, the festival was also observed partially as women and girls did attend pooja at various temples all over the city in the morning and also shopped for rakhi, the sacred thread they tie around their brothers’ right wrists to remind them of their duty to protect their sisters for as long as they live.

“Raksha Bandhan is always celebrated on a full moon during the Hindu month of Shravana. But this full moon is partially hidden due to an eclipse. It is not considered good luck to tie a rakhi or start anything good during an eclipse of the moon or even the sun for that matter,” said Alka Khatri.

“Still, we can buy the rakhi today though we will be tying it tomorrow,” she added, getting busy selecting the perfect one for her older brother Tarun.

Ashok Kumar had travelled to Karachi all the way from his home in Mirpur Mathelo in District Ghotki to sell his locally-made rakhi of many varieties. There were the traditional red and orange ones and also white and green ones along with some with the Hindu god Hanuman in the middle, which he said were popular with little girls. But he was selling each rakhi for Rs10 only. This was working to his advantage as he had the most customers at his makeshift stall spread out on a sheet on one side of the narrow lane leading to the Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple at the Native’s Jetty.

“I have two brothers and 15 to 20 male cousins so I have to buy plenty of rakhi,” said Sharda Devi. “It is also why I am looking for reasonably-priced ones,” she said as she selected several threads from Kumar’s stall.

Meanwhile, Poonam Prakash also looking through the threads wanted very simple red rakhi with as few beads as possible in the middle. “The ones with too many beads and stones get tangled with the string so I am looking for hassle-free rakhi for my three brothers,” she explained.

Kesar Narayan said that since the rakhi festival goes beyond a day there was really no harm in putting it off for one day. “Normally, we can tie the rakhi for three to seven days,” she said. “My youngest sister settled in India after marriage so she sends her rakhi for our five brothers in Pakistan through someone or the other coming here. Sometimes it gets delayed if no one is coming so there is not that much strictness about doing it on time,” she smiled.

Kesar said that she herself had three sons and no daughters. “My brother-in-law’s daughter ties the rakhi around my children’s wrists,” she shared. “Till today she was unable to make up her mind about which kind of sweetmeat to put on her pooja thaali along with the rakhi, flowers, dried coconut, rice, kumkum and diya,” she laughed. “Her own brother and cousins, too, have different preferences. Some want rasgulla, some rasmalai, some gulab jamun and some ladoo. She now has another day to decide what she should get,” she added.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2017

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