The humble thread just got a make-over. Rakhi now comes in silver or gold studded with semi-precious stones — ones that can be converted to bracelets and pendants after the festival.
For children, a variety of rakhis made of fur or cartoon and fictional heroes are available. The ‘Krrish’ mask in black and caricatures of child wizard Harry Potter are among the hot favourites. For football crazy brothers, rakhis with miniature pictures of World cup stars Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Ronaldinho and the like are sure to score a goal.
And it’s not only what kind of rakhi you tie that is changing, the gifts that you get in return are also getting a makeover. Branded suits and leather organisers and Chinese jute raincoats are being given as gifts.
Women are receiving scarves, spice candles scented with clove and coffee flavours, ceramic pieces and stained glass lampshades and photo-frames. The clientele for these products constitute the hip and experimentative and the upwardly mobile.
Sweets and dry fruits are passe and innovation is the new anthem. “With exposure to media, travel and an increase in disposable incomes, people are looking out for gifts that have value beyond a particular day or occasion,” says Deepak Vohra of ‘Episodes’, a store that sells sterling silver items.
The choice of gifts vary. Some are doling out food and gift coupons, music and film CDs to their siblings while ones with more cash in hand are giving away anything from works of emerging artists to European vases, cushion covers with gold applique work and jewellery.
Also available in the market are items in silver like pen stands, bookmarks, tape dispensers for men and hairbrushes, compact boxes, hairclips and broaches — designed on the lines of the latest collection by the likes of Armani — for women.
So has the festival become commercialised? Has it moved away from relationships and emotions and centres around what one gives or receives? Vohra feels that it’s “not about showing-off” since it’s “all in the family”. However, stained glass artist Malavika Tiwari says, “Marketers have to sell their wares and create occasions. Commercialisation is a way of life.”