Hindus traditionally observe the holiday known as Rakṣā Bandhana — loosely translated as the “Protection Connection” — as a holiday to reaffirm the relationship between sisters and brothers. Traditionally a sister symbolically ties a string known as a Rākhī (pronounced rah-Khee) around her brother’s wrist to protect him from life’s adversities, and he promises to protect his sister.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a U.S.-based organization with nearly 220 branches (including one in Wilton/Darien), has celebrated this occasion at a broader societal level to reaffirm the group’s social and civic responsibilities to support and protect its wider community.
In this spirit, since 2004, HSS has marked Rakṣā Bandhana (pronounced ruck-SHAH bund-HUN) to meet with civic leaders and public safety officers. According to Wilton resident Vikram Bhandari, HSS celebrates the festival as “Universal Oneness Day,” and among other activities, conducts outreach programs to introduce Hindu values to friends and neighbors from other faith traditions, often offering blessings to local first responders.
This year, several Wilton families celebrated the holiday on Sunday, Aug. 29 with a ceremony offering the Rākhī to Wilton’s police officers, firefighters and EMTs.
During the 2020 pandemic, HSS volunteers worked nationally in 27 states, 198 cities, serving over 45,000 families. This year, at several places, HSS volunteers are supporting local governments as well as Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), in the vaccination drives in several locations.