THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RAKHYA – THE SACRED ASH
Consecrated fires are very important in our religion and hence the ash coming from these sacred fires is also considered sacred. They have been in direct connection with the sacred fire. This sacred ash is known as Rakhya. This word comes from the Gujarati word Ra-kh “ash.”
We have a tradition of applying Rakhya on the forehead after paying homage to the sacred fire. There are several reasons for this practice. Firstly it is to show humility and submission to the sacred fire, whom we consider the Padshah – our king. Secondly it should remind us to be humble at all times, as everything in the end finally has to turn to dust. It also reminds us to spread fragrance in the world, as the sandalwood does, before it is consumed by the fire.
Certain traditions believe that since the ‘inner eye’ or the ‘third eye’ is situated somewhere in between on the forehead, the Rakhya helps us to remind us of our inner spirituality.
Since the Rakhya are considered sacred, their sanctity has to be maintained. They should not be taken to a polluted environment and hence we have a practice of wiping off the Rakhya before going out of the fire temple lest they fall outside and be trampled upon or be defiled in some other way.
Money – coins or notes, offered to the Atash Padshah should not be kept in the tray with the Rakhya. Money has passed through many hands and may be unclean. They should be deposited in the box which is specially provided for that purpose.
Some people have the practice of applying the Rakhya at several places besides their forehead. Some apply on the throat, some on the face, some on stomach and some on personal belongings. Some even take it home. This is not only unnecessary but sometimes even anti-religious. Rakhya should be preferably taken by the right index finger and apply on the forehead.
The Rakhya is the nearest we can get physically to our beloved sacred fires. It allows us to be in touch with the Atash Padshah. We should treat them with the respect and reverence they deserve.
Courtesy : Farida Dotivala