Every year in August the 'sisters' of shuktara come to the boys home and tie rakhi on the wrists of their 'brothers' to show their affection. Across most of India the same thing happens - with brothers and sisters who are related by blood but also when that strong family bond is felt between unrelated people. It is a celebration that everyone at shuktara can participate in, and everyone enjoys this festival immensely.
[from Wikipedia] Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit literally means "the tie or knot of protection". The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. It is an ancient Hindu festival that ritually celebrates the love and duty between brothers and their sisters. The sister performs a Rakhi ceremony, then prays to express her love and her wish for the well being of her brother; in return, the brother ritually pledges to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances.
The festival is also an occasion to celebrate brother-sister like family ties between cousins or distant family members, sometimes between biologically unrelated men and women. To many, the festival transcends biological family, brings together men and women across religions, diverse ethnic groups and ritually emphasizes harmony and love. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Śrāvaṇa, and typically falls in August every year.
Here’s some photos from the annual shuktara girls summer holiday to Puri starting May 13th.
Pappu Mishra (chairman of shuktara) and Sunil are accompanying all the girls and staff of Lula Bari. They take the overnight train to Puri together and stay in a small hotel near the beach. Since it's the hottest time of the year everyone takes a "bath" in the sea.
Lali came to shuktara in 2008 after she and her sister were abandoned by their parents. Since then her sister has been in a missionary home here in Kolkata and yesterday they were reunited.
Read about Lali here:
Holi was celebrated much more vigorously in Lula Bari, our girls home, than it was by the boys here in Kolkata.
Maybe as they grow older, the boys are not quite so interested, but the girls had a great day.
Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom and learning. Every year the celebration at shuktara is anticipated by everyone with great excitement. An elaborate statue of the goddess is chosen and taken to the house. On the roof a home for the goddess is constructed the night before with fresh flowers – this year there were pink egg cartons also to add to the festive atmosphere. On the day of Saraswati Puja everyone puts on their best clothes and participate in the ritual of the goddess by chanting Sanskrit and throwing handfuls of fresh flower petals to accentuate the prayers.
Lali came to our girls home in 2008.