Hey Bro, virtual Rakhi is here to stay

E-Rakhi, which delivers emotions alongwith receptacles, has overcome distances, says Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 03:18 IST

The Rakshabandhan celebration, always a cause for much happiness and

festivity here and away, has transformed into quite the commercial mantra. With a booming Indian American population, this area has witnessed a phenomenal rise in the viable dynamics that shape this festival.

Legendary and significant for what it symbolizes, this festival garners much frenzy every year beginning months prior to the actual festival-date. This year, the auspicious day may be 9th August, but as in the past, peripheral celebrations and preparations began long ago.

Over the past couple of months, Indian shopping centers have worn a bedecked bridal look with beautifully woven Rakhi threads in golden-silken skeins and the traditional kesar-roli, haldi-kumkum veneer. Every individual business unit in the area has typically positioned its prime offering as a prize Rakhi give-away.

While general merchants have rows of tables and shelves lined with Rakhi threads in myriad hues and designs, sweet shops have been selling various mithai offerings as the perfect recipe for Rakhi day revelry.

Sari and clothing shops in the metro area have put the accelerator on their embroidered zardosi, silk and chenille product line as the ideal apparel for the big day, while jewelers are on a big roll catapulting their entire bracelet catalogue as the perfect Rakhi- one that would last forever and ever.

Even as mythology would have us believe that a simple thread of faith tied on your brother's wrist defines the pristine bond of protection and love, renewed every year; it is resilient, innovative commercial endeavours that have added arabesque layers of meaning to the simple bond.

Today, Rakhi is not just about sending a sacred thread and sweetmeats to your brother in India or in the US and receiving gifts in turn, all done in iron-clad FedEx certainty. In a cacophony of sorts, online gifts-to-India sites are overreaching themselves to make it impossible for patrons to look away, offering Rakhi deals that are irresistibly within grasp.

Google-ing their way into homes across America and India, numerous websites have been gaining momentum as the day draws near, making exciting offers on Rakhi specials to patrons globally. If a few years back, people steered clear and stuck to snail mail, with the kind of online shipping options available today, even the most conservative of buyers are being lured into this new age system of fast and simple delivery at the click of a button, as it were.

Comprehensive and widely differing gift options at leading shopping websites include all types of designer Rakhis, specially crafted gift hampers for brothers and sisters and even whimsical strings studded with popular cartoon characters for kid brothers. Pooja thalis replete with dry fruits, traditional sweets such as kaju katli, and even the auspicious Lakshmi-Ganesha coin are proving to be major attractions. Given the ubiquitous NRI penchant for everything ethnic, collections of traditional lumba sets for sisters-in-law copiously dot the product catalogue.

Online shopping and shipping has made it easier for people to indulge in a few atypical gifts as well. Gemstone rakhis, mobile phones, ipods, digital cameras as also jewelry and rare fabrics with exotic handcrafted embossments are in.

Convenient and unique e-shop options have proven to be the reason behind this burgeoning enterprise. One can freely browse online catalogues, view one's shopping cart, track orders, and even qualify for free, assured delivery to any part of the country. Additionally, manufacturers are throwing in fun freebies in the heady mix to keep it even more surreal. Packages with free 'sandeshapatra' messages, complimentary haldi tika and ceremonial coconuts are only some of the perks.

Overseas, Rakhi has become associated with the fostering of filial relations that go beyond the brother-sister tie. Friends and families celebrate the bond of love as a declaration of their amity. This is perhaps the reason why this traditional Hindu festival is no longer limited to the religious fraternity, as Indians belonging to many different creeds come forward and embrace it as their own.

Now, with zealous participation from online traders, who indeed deliver emotions, not just receptacles, Rakshabandhan has become a festival that can be enjoyed by loved ones even if they are miles apart, making this yet another web-wonder of virtual reality.

First Published: Aug 08, 2006 15:20 IST