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Raksha Bandhan celebration ties community together

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  • Ekal Vidyalaya is non-profit organization focused on building “thriving, self-reliant rural villages” in India “through education, health services, and economic empowerment.” The organization is active in more than 10 countries, where it focuses on making an impact in local communities.

    Mr. Jeff Christopherson
  • Helping Hands youth board member Pranathi Ganti (’24) addresses the more than 65 students, staff and administrators who attended the Aug. 30 event.

    Mr. Jeff Christopherson
  • Mr. Jeff Christopherson
  • Sophomore Sachi Revuru scoured markets in India for 300 unique handmade rakhi. Attendees then tied the red-threaded jewelry on other guests’ wrists in homage to the custom among siblings at traditional Raksha Bandhan ceremonies.

    Mr. Jeff Christopherson
  • While Raksha Bandhan traditionally honors literal sisters and brothers, event participators tied rakhi around each other’s wrists as a more symbolic gesture of brotherhood and unity.

    Mr. Jeff Christopherson
  • Mr. Jeff Christopherson

Ekal Helping Hands, the youth service branch of Bloomington’s Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation chapter, is focused on making a difference in the community.

It brought that mission to Community in observation of Raksha Bandhan–a Hindu festival of brotherhood–on Aug. 30.

Organized by Helping Hands’ student volunteer members, 66 students, staff and school and district leaders gathered in the IMC after school Wednesday in celebration of the holiday.

While Raksha Bandhan traditionally honors literal sisters and brothers, with sisters tying a rakhi around their brothers’ wrists to signify the siblings’ bond, Helping Hands celebrated unity in a larger sense.

Community’s third annual Raksha Bandhan event recognized the unity among the Ekal organization’s leaders, school faculty and Unit 5 District Office representatives—from Superintendent Dr. Weikle to Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Kristal Shelvin.

While this year’s celebration marked Community’s largest observance yet, Helping Hands’ parent organization Ekal Vidyalaya is used to rapid growth.

Ekal Vidyalaya—an education-focused volunteer group–has grown its presence to 80,000 villages between rural India and Nepal in under four decades.

For the organization’s local youth volunteers involved in education initiatives, like Helping Hands youth board member Pranathi Ganti (’24), the Community Raksha Bandhan event’s progression from a small gathering in the senior cafeteria in 2021 to one that packed the IMC in 2023 felt equally significant—a measure of their local projects’ reaches.

“It’s really, really heartwarming,” Ganti said, “to see how much we’ve grown through the years and how much of an impact we’ve had on the school community.”

Anticipating increased attendance at school and community-wide Raksha Bandhan events, sophomore Sachi Revuru scoured markets in India for 300 unique, handmade rakhi. Attendees then tied the red-threaded jewelry on other guests’ wrists in homage to the custom among siblings at traditional Raksha Bandhan ceremonies.

“The brothers are vowing to protect their sisters no matter what,” Ganti said, “and the sisters show their appreciation for them by tying a rakhi, or a threaded bracelet.”

But to Ganti and Revuru, Ekal’s celebrations in Bloomington-Normal—from an event with police officers, the town’s literal protectors, to Community’s gathering of friends and leaders—emphasize chosen bonds between community members.

“I tied it to my own friends,” Revuru said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. It’s for everyone.”

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About the Contributor
Abby Ruebush
Abby Ruebush, Editor-in-Chief
Abby Ruebush is a senior at Normal Community High School and serves as president of Student Council and the Community Best Buddies chapter. This is her third year working with the Inkspot, where she is Editor-in-Chief.  I like dance, ice cream and thoughtful conversation. A slogan to live by is that every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
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