As a child, I was always fascinated by Rakshabandhan, mostly because of the way it was depicted in advertisements and movies; and gifts! Who doesn’t love gifts? Growing up, my views began to change, as I understood the full implication of the festival.
For those of you who don’t know what Rakhabandhan is, I’ll save Google the trouble. It is a Hindu festival which celebrates the brother-sister relationship. This, is a good thing. A relationship as beautiful as this deserves to be celebrated. But, there’s more to it. The sister, by tying a thread, the Rakhi, around her brother’s wrist, expresses her love for him and wishes his well-being, and the brother, in return, vows to protect his sister under all circumstances. Now this is the part I find a little sexist. Before you start feeling aghast and expressing your hatred towards me, think about it.
For the sake of argument, let’s say I have a 3-year-old brother. How is he supposed to protect me? Shouldn’t I be the one vowing to take care of him? Now if I do have an elder brother, am I not capable of taking care of myself? Isn’t this, subconsciously, acceptance of the fact that I need a male figure in my life to take care me? And does the brother really need her sister to tie Rakhi on his wrist to know that she loves him? Isn’t that evident in all little things she does for him? When he hurt himself, and his sister rushed outside, wasn’t she expressing her love? When his sister stood up for him, in front of his parents or friends, wasn’t SHE the one protecting him?
I don’t have a brother, so my younger sister and I tie Rakhi to each other. I really respect this tradition in my family. It acknowledges the fact that as a sister, I can take care of my sister, and my sister is capable of taking care of me. Why isn’t this the norm in all families? Why don’t siblings tie Rakhi to each other to signify that they will BOTH take care of the other under all circumstances?
For a long time, I feared I was the only person who felt this way. But am I really?