When asked what is Raksha Bhandhan, most would say that it is about tying rakhis and receiving gifts, some would go into the significance of it and say that it is about protecting sisters and gaining their goodwill and blessings. And then there are those who might find this very premise unsettling.
A strand of feminists has found the idea of Raksha Bandhan problematic because of its original meaning. The word raksha means ‘protection, and Raksha Bandhan refers to the sacred thread that begets protection from brothers. Clearly, this idea of women needing protection has not gone down with many.
But, in today’s post-modern and capitalist world, is Raksha Bandhan still a sensitive festival in terms of gender equations. No doubts it has those roots, and always will. But I send my brother a rakhi every monsoon, and I definitely don’t demand any protection in exchange. However, I do make it a point to get him the nicest rakhi and the nicest card from an Archies or a Hallmark. (Sadly, I cannot afford the more embellished ‘designer’ ones.)
So, what does that tell you about Raksha Bandhan? As for me, it is that one time of the year when I think about sending something nice to my brother. And I do so only because I think that it is a nice gesture to make when you live miles apart.
Yes, I know that the premise of Raksha Bandhan is a patriarchal one, but I do not celebrate it for that. I celebrate it like it were a ‘Siblings Day’ of sorts. For the critics of Raksha Bandhan, I completely understand the validity of your argument and also the logic behind it, i.e., to uproot patriarchy one has to uproot all social practices associated with it. To those who celebrate the festival, make it about indulgent celebrations and gifts if you must, make it about remembering your sibling on that special day; but don’t make it about the brother protecting the sister.
Let it be about the relationship that siblings share, it can be about that one time when your brother told on you when you sneaked out of the house or that time when you took his phone and got mischievous to take revenge. As human beings, as especially those that share such strong connections, it is only natural that we will stand by each other and protect each other in times of adversity.
This Raksha Bandhan, make it about celebrating that mutual connection.
Image credits: webneel.com
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