This Raksha Bandhan on Tuesday, Anuj Hatalkar is expecting a special rakhi, but not from his ‘real’ sister.
The 21-year-old shares a special bond with his rakhi sister — a friend he may not be related to, but who celebrates the festival with him with more fervour than his own sibling.
“There are times when you just get a warm, sisterly vibe from a friend, and it’s nice that we have a festival in this country to celebrate it,” said Hatalkar, who has been receiving rakhis for four years from his best friend from junior college.
“It has always been a mutual feeling — we are protective of each other, but in what is clearly a brother-sister way,” added the Bandra resident, whose rakhi gift to his sister is an evening out for a few drinks with their common friends.
Since his own sister is “always around”, Hatalkar doesn’t feel the need to make a point of it on the festival.
For Safa Sheikh, who has no brother of her own, rakhi is an important day to be celebrated with her childhood family friend and now ‘brother’ Rohit Mangeshkar.
“The tradition began as a whim when we were children, but now, even though we are grown up and hardly meet, the bond remains,” said Sheikh (25), who receives special gifts attention from her rakhi brother though he has ‘real’ sisters.
But popular as the phenomenon may be, not everyone recommends giving friendship the flavour of a sibling relationship.
“In our society, the rakhi relationship is considered sacred, and our parents often force it on us to eliminate any possibility of other relations,” said Abhimanyu Mandal (28), a Cuffe Parade resident who ended up dating a girl who he was made to call ‘didi’ as a child.
The two were neighbours and best friends in primary school, but lost touch for 10 years when Mandal moved from Patna to Delhi.
“Later we often laughed at the memories of her tying rakhis to me. But there was no need for it. Why can’t two people just remain friends?” Mandal asked.