Being an NHSF (UK) student, it was a great honour in being able to take part in celebrating Raksha Bandhan with the Armed Forces in Leeds on the 1st of September.

I was in talks with Sgt Allison Butlin from Harewood Barracks to plan our Raksha Bandhan event, which was a major success in spite of how quickly and efficiently we organised it.

Arriving at the Barracks at the end of the evening, I was first welcomed by the Armed Forces and was introduced to everyone who was on their drill. This was followed by a presentation, made by myself, which discussed the importance of Raksha Bandhan in the Hindu culture, as well as the steps of the Raksha Bandhan ceremony with a meaning behind each one. This was so that every member present knew the weight behind each action, and felt as if they were a part of the Parivaar in the community.

After giving the presentation, I expressed my personal thanks as well as the gratitude of many Hindus across the United Kingdom for the work done by the Armed Forces. Because how of much the Armed Forces have sacrificed to make sure we are all protected day and night, it was our humble wish and request to tie Rakhis on you all to express our gratitude for their selfless service.

Before I tied the Rakhis, I relayed the following message:

We would like to take this time to say a massive thank you for all the work you have done to serve us all and our country and home. We truly appreciate every single member in the Armed Forces.

The highlight of the event was tying twenty rakhis on the members of the armed forces and feeding them a sweet. Being a brother, typically I am on the receiving end of Raksha Bandhan but to be on the opposite side opened my eyes to how it feels to be sharing the well wishes and pray for their best health. Traditionally, sisters tie the Rakhis as well as give sweets to the brother, but in reality, the power of Raksha Bandhan doesn’t differentiate between brothers and sisters and can be expressed between two different people, groups or communities. A simple act of expressing thanks to anyone has the power to create, build and strengthen bonds, which in this world is something that needs to be brought out more.

Gaurav Bhardwaj
NHSF (UK) Student