Raksha Bandhan is a sacred bond that avows love and trust on a sister's behalf and begets an assurance of protection from her brother. The kinship between a brother and a sister is not dependent on a string of thread, but a special day dedicated to this bond surely renews affection and plugs the communication void created by today's fast-paced life.
However, as a child, unmindful of its social or cultural significance, I used to eagerly await Raksha Bandhan for the sheer festivity and happiness that it brought. How can I deny the charm of a rakhi gift, which was either a generous share of my brother's pocket money or some cash borrowed from dad. Nonetheless, it was the most fascinating aspect of Raksha Bandhan, in addition to getting dressed up and feasting on sweets. Oh! Did I forget to mention the main perk of the day, a priceless school holiday!
A search for the perfect rakhi usually ended at the only departmental store in the locality that had a special display of fancy ones (or so the banner outside the shop proclaimed). The only options available were the colourful doris (threads) or sponge-based, flower-shaped, shimmery-topped rakhis, the bigger the better. The essence of this pious day was pure, innocent and simple.
Now as a grown-up, I feel that though the auspiciousness of Raksha Bandhan still remains the same but it's not unaffected by the influence of commercialisation. The simple thread has been replaced by silver, gold and diamond-studded designer bracelets. The modest shagun or gift seems outdated in front of the expensive and lavish gifts. The good old (may be not that good with spurious khoya being used) sweetmeats have lost the battle of palate to gourmet chocolates.
The biggest challenge for sisters is getting the right look for R-Day, often leading to a shopping spree and visits to the beautician. Who thought Raksha Bandhan would be a befitting occasion for leading brands of apparels, cosmetics, fashion accessories, confectioners and even jewellers to advertise and entice brothers and sisters alike? In short, our traditional festival has undergone a stylish makeover in tune with the changing times.
Well, no grudge against this modern adaptation unless it instigates rivalry, complexes and widens the rift between the haves and have-nots. And while we are already attuned to the renewed avatar of many of our festivals, I take the liberty to suggest a new perspective on this sacred day of Raksha Bandhan, one that is more relevant in the present context.
Why don't we extend the perimeter of this bond of affinity to celebrate the love between two sisters? Isn't a sister as capable of caring and protecting her sibling as a brother is? Why has this day to be a reminder of lack of a brother in the family? Why can't two sisters or may be brothers tie a rakhi and reaffirm their commitment to stand by each other through thick and thin?
We have embraced Valentine's Day and Friendship Day from the West, we may also integrate Sister's Day, the first Sunday of August, and Sibling Day, which is celebrated on April 10, with our cultural heritage of Raksha Bandhan. I also appeal to all brothers to pledge protection not only to their sisters but also take a vow to uphold the dignity of every woman. This Raksha Bandhan, let us redefine the essence of this pious bond and celebrate it with a renewed