‘Rakshabandhan’ is something that I have been religiously celebrating for the past 22 years. It is a festival of love, togetherness, and a little fun between the siblings. ‘Rakhi’ represents a bond of protection. Of course, it’s important for the sisters since they get to ask for amazing gifts from their brothers. It’s all nice and fun. At least that is what I had always seen it as.
I was just watching this particular advertisement which tried to use the ideology behind ‘Rakshabandhan’ in order to sell its product. That got me thinking. I realized something which may have crossed my mind before but I had never given it much importance. After sitting with this thought for a while, I happened to ask myself, “Why do we only tie rakhi to our brothers? Or even fathers in some cases. Why don’t we tie them to our sisters or mothers?” I mean, our entire family wants to, and works very hard to, protect us. I am sure even my mom and my sister would go to great lengths to save me, if I am in some sort of trouble. I am sure my friends would do the same. So why does this festival (well, like many others) have a particular skewedness involved?
Now, I may not know the great mythological history behind this festival. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter to me. Why should I care about something which ‘apparently’ happened gazillion years ago? I would rather not complicate life by these constructed notions of the past and just do things which make sense to me. So, in a very simple manner, ‘Rakshabandhan’ means a festival which you use as a way of acknowledging the people who have been there for you. Tying a rakhi on their wrist means that you appreciate their efforts and would continue to trust them in the future. It is just a way to thank them for being a part of your life and symbolizes a promise to continue this bond further. Thats it. Gender does not come in any of this. Of course you can, and should, tie rakhis to all the amazing people in your life. Why should it always be associated with brothers, or even sisters? It can be for anyone. We do have friendship’s day for our friends, don’t we? If we don’t follow gender specific approach on that day, why should we do this here? ‘Rakshabandhan’ can be seen on very similar lines. It is simply a way of respecting and valuing the other.
I don’t want even this to be a subtle form of patriarchy which runs so solid in our veins that it does not even get noticed. This festival constitutes just a small part of a dense network which we all keep feeding in our daily lives. I am not saying that we should completely stop such practices. No. But we can begin by questioning them. At times, the basis and the current execution of things can be very different. We will never realize it if we just remain ignorant to how we function as a society. A suitable modification following such critical thoughts is all we need.
So yes, we all have to keep our eyes open and just question things before we accept them!