Since childhood, I have always been the type of child who would always get a little too excited about festivals – any festival, for that matter. I loved the idea of celebrations in life where close family and friends would find an excuse from their monotonous daily schedules and find time for one another to reunite, even if it only lasted for a few hours or a day. The concept of bringing together people with whom you’re associated, either by blood or close connections, always seemed to bring a smile on my face. The fact that they would have to forget their old grudges and forgive each other, all for an occasion which demanded an expression of love of their unbreakable bond despite everything, was inspiring.
Growing up, I heard many lovely stories about the festival of Raksha Bandhan. My mother used to tell me about the Indian King Peru, who refrained from causing any kind of harm to the great conqueror, King Alexander, only because of his wife who had earlier approached him and formed a bond with him like that of a sister. She also told me about the beautiful relation between Lord Krishna and Draupathi, and how, when the pandavas lost Draupathi in the game of dice and Kauravas were removing her saari, Krishna protected her in divinely elongating her saari so that it could not be removed.
At that time, she taught me that Rakhi meant a spiritual binding between a brother and a sister where they promised to protect each other for as long as they lived. Every year, seeing her and my aunts celebrate this festival at my nani’s house where they would tie a beautiful rakhi on their brother’s wrist and feed him a rasgulla or a barfi was heartwarming. Learning from our elders, me and my cousins would do the same. Funnily enough, my sisters and I developed our own little special ways of celebrating this festival. We would get excited at seeing each other’s rakhis and convince our brother on telling us whose rakhi he found the most appealing to wear, for which he would never give us one straight answer. As a kid, I still remember how slow I used to be in being able to tie a perfect rakhi, as I would either end up making a loose ribbon or a tight shoelace out of it. My brother would laugh ceaselessly at me, for which I’d deliberately stuff the whole sweet in his mouth and end up taking an extra gift of chocolates from him.
Today, with my cousin brothers being far away from me and having no brother of my own, I realised that I had no one to celebrate this festival with. However, this is the irony. Despite feeling lonesome about this fact, I discovered something meaningful. Why is it so necessary for us to have a brother to celebrate this festival? Where is it written that this festival cannot be celebrated among any siblings? After all, is there any difference between a brother’s protection and that of a sister’s? I have an elder sister and quite honestly, I have never felt the requirement of a brother in her presence. From taking care of me in the simplest ways, scolding me at my mistakes, teaching me the right things in her own ways, healing me with her comfort, protecting me from the people she didn’t approve of and defending me in front of my parents even when I didn’t deserve it, she has been there for me through everything and given me more love than anyone else in my life.
Her mere existence has been the greatest proof that a sister’s protection is just as divine and powerful as that of a brother’s. In fact, I can proudly say that she has taken care of me and given me more love than any other brother in this world. Thus, for me, as the name suggests, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ does not stay restricted to the bond between a brother and a sister, but refers to a simple, beautiful relationship between any sibling who, irrespective of their age or gender, will continue to love, protect, laugh, tease, fight and stay with each other till the very end. So, if you’re a sister with no brother, go ahead and tie a rakhi to your sister and show her how much you mean to her!
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