Sikhs celebrate Diwali ? Is tying a "Rakhri"
or "Rakhi" a Sikh ritual? Why or why not?
Yes. On Diwali day fireworks are displayed
at the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Sikhs
gather there in maximum numbers on that
day. Diwali day has a different significance
for people of different faiths. For many
people, it is more a social celebration
of happiness than a religious day. We
are not sure if some religious connections
attributed to that day are historically
true or not. It is, however, known that
Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed, during the early
18th century, started the gathering of
the Khalsa at Amritsar twice a year, once
on Baisakhi (spring), and the second time
on Diwali (autumn).
The Rakhri ritual is not a Sikh ritual.
Its practice does not fit in the Sikh
philosophy. Rakhi or Rakhri means protection.
This is a custom among some Hindus. Accepting
a Rakhri from a girl, sister or a cousin
means that the boy takes the responsibility
of protecting her if she happens to get
into any trouble. As a token of his promise,
he gives some money to the girl after
she ties the Rakhri on his wrist. The
ritual of Rakhri assumes that a girl cannot
protect herself. This gives second-rate
status to the women. Hence, it is not
an approved custom among the Sikhs. According
to historic tradition, the Rakhi or Rakhri
was a magic thread tied by a Tantric Yogi,
a holy person, or a fakir, to protect
the wearer from evil happenings. Later,
the Rakhri took the form of the present
colorful banglelike thread with flowers
and other decorations tied to it.