HSS holds annual Raksha Bandhan in Naperville

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More than 50 people attended the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) Naperville-Aurora chapter’s annual Raksha Bandhan Monday morning at the Naperville Police Department.

“We have lots of utsavs, which are events within our shakha, Raksha Bandhan, we are doing it for the ninth time over here,” said HSS member Shreyas Suresh. “This is where we recognize the selfless service that our police officers, fire department, the way they really serve and protect the community.”

Rakhis, tikkas, and shawls of appreciation

Each public servant at the celebration received a tikka mark on their forehead and a rakhi, which is a traditional Hindi bracelet.

“We tie something called the Raksha Bandhan, which is a sacred thread, which basically symbolizes the trust that we invest in these first responders, and also recognize the great work that they do for us,” said Suresh. “Rakhis can be very fashionable. It can be really artful, but it can be a simple, sacred red thread as well.”

Naperville Chief of Police Jason Arres, Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis, and Mayor of Naperville Scott Wehrli received shawls as well. 

Bond between brother and sister

Raksha Bandhan celebrates the bond between brother and sister: in this case, showing how different groups in Naperville can come together to give their respect to a shared purpose.

“Raksha Bandhan is actually a traditional Hindu ceremony event,” said Suresh. “It’s the bond that is established between a brother and a sister, but it doesn’t necessarily stop there. Any two people that acknowledge that sense of trust, and expecting that one helps the other in the time of need, especially from providing safety and security. That’s what this event symbolizes.”

HSS member and incoming freshman at Neuqua Valley Adhvaith Ganesh said he enjoys taking part in Raksha Bandhan.

“I’ve actually been doing this for multiple years and I’ve always seen other people talk about it, typically people that were older than me,” said Ganesh. “I just found it really cool, and I actually believe in what we’re doing, it’s not something I’m  forced to go to. I also want to show my gratitude for people that are putting their lives on the line for us.”

Police and fire chief give thanks

Arres was happy to see HSS members once again give their support to Naperville’s first responders.

“This is what makes Naperville such a great city, different groups banding together with the goal of keeping Naperville safe,” said Arres. “Today is great because here’s a group coming forward that says it’s offering us protection and prayer for what we know are very dangerous jobs. As police and firemen and women, we take a lot of pride in protecting the city and protecting community members.”

Puknaitis has participated in each Raksha Bandhan since its inaugural Naperville event in 2008.

“To start the week early in the morning like this is very special,” said Puknaitis. “It sends a message to us for the rest of the week that we are appreciated, that we’re needed, and that we have that really wonderful collaboration in the community.  We learn about the history, we learn about the importance of it, and the collaboration is tremendous.”

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