Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Raksha Bandhan is the time of the year when siblings forget all differences and fight to bond over again. Rakhi is a symbol of reverence, assurance of safety and sacred thread of love between a brother and his sister.

The festival is celebrated with much pomp and grandeur in Odisha and across the country. But with travel restrictions and physical distancing becoming the new normal this year to keep coronavirus at bay, Rakhi celebrations have found a new way to cheer.

This year, online rakhi celebrations have become the new trend. While some are taking the Zoom style in live videos and myriad ways to celebrate the bond of love, e-Rakhis have turned out as a blessing in the times of the pandemic across the globe and the State too.

The rakhi stalls have considerably declined in markets following the months-long lockdown, be it the capital city Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela. Sales have also come down drastically with people reluctant to market visits and instead opting for online orders and couriers for sending rakhis.

In Ganjam, members of Buguda Scouts and Guide have sent the sacred thread for the soldiers guarding the country on the borders.

“We have sent rakhis and masks for soldiers and we hope they will be happy with the gesture,” said a member of Buguda Scouts and Guide.

On the other hand, many view that the extraordinary circusmtances due to the pandemic has brought entire family together.

Manan Gupta, a student of Xavier Institute of Management (XIMB) Bhubaneswar said, “I was never home on Raksha Bandhan. My sister used to courier me rakhi every year and I had to tie it myself but this time it’s different. After so many years, finally I am home and will be able to celebrate the festival with her. So, this is the best side of lockdown.”

“The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown have brought siblings closer. I rarely talk to my brothers but with the prevailing Covid situation, I speak to them every day and inspect about their well being,” said another student of XIMB Aishwarya Mohanty.

The festival also holds another significance in Odisha as the day is celebrated as ‘Gamha Purnima’ which also marks the birthday of Lord Balabhadra.

Goddess Subhadra ties rakhi to her two brothers- Lord Balabhadra and Jagannath in Puri Srimandir. Patara Bisoi sevayat prepare the rakhis with Basunga Patta for the Lords. Lord Balabhadra wears green and purple coloured rakhi while Lord Jagannath adorns red and yellow rakhi on the occasion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi, BJP Vice President Baijayant Panda and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik extended their hearty greetings to the people on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

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