Pune: A simple thread, which gives an immense feeling of affection, bonding and love, that is rakhi, is tied to brother on his wrist by his sister on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. But Anand Saraf, Founder of Sainik Mitra Parivar, which is a city-based NGO has added a value to it by sending rakhis to the men who guard our borders.
In its 20th year now, the Parivar has diligently sent lakhs of rakhis to the soldiers, who are posted at various places of the country.
Saraf said, “Till three years ago, only 1.5 lakh rakhis were being sent to the soldiers but from the last year, the number has increased from four to five lakh. This is all because of awareness created through the media.”
“The rakhis are mostly made by students of schools and colleges followed by NGOs, self-help groups, day care centres, Ganeshotsav mandals and other such social organisations of the city. Along with it, other prominent cities, including ones from Punjab and Haryana, are also participating in sending rakhis to the soldiers through us,” Saraf said.
“This year, we are sending 30 thousand rakhis in the first phase by post. Along with it, we are also sending dry fruits and greeting cards. This year, around 100 kg of dry fruits is being sent by Lions Club of Vijaynagar, Pune,” added Saraf.
It all started when a border and battlefield study tour, organised by the Southern Command in 1997, had taken Saraf along with 21 like-minded people from Pune and Baramati to the Kashmir border. They learned there the magnitude of the role played by the men in uniform and as a form of gratitude, they started sending rakhis to the soldiers.
“Initially, only 100 rakhis were sent to 50 to 60 regiments and now we are sending lakh of rakhis to more than 150 regiments, which is in turn depicting gratitude and respect for them,” Saraf said.
“The rakhis are posted to individual regiments that are deployed in several areas of the country. From there, they are sent to various forward locations. The rakhis are then tied to the soldier’s wrist on Rakhi Purnima by the unit pandit or gyaani or maulvi. In response to the rakhis, the soldiers write letters and send gifts. We believe this is one of the ways we want to tell our brave soldiers how grateful we are for the sacrifices they make for us to be safe,” Saraf further added.