A pretty rakhi. Check
A beautiful puja thali laid out. Check
An annoying brother. Check
A sweet sister. Check
A gift wrapped big box of surprises in the annoying brother’s hands. Check
And warm hugs and lovely smiles. Check
Raksha Bandhan, a festival that celebrates the sometimes sweet and sometimes sour bond of siblings, is a day for every brother and sister to cherish.
True. Siblings can be maddening creatures. Yet we cannot exist without them. Brothers can irritate us; turn us sane souls into insane ones. It is only brothers who can pull your pig tails when you are a toddler and do the same when you grow up too. It is only sisters who can be a pain for the brothers yet turn into a fiery little lioness when someone talks ill about our brothers. We fight for remote control, we fight for that last piece of cake or last scoop of ice cream, and we fight for everything and anything. All the pillow fights and breaking of numerous toys to remotes to furniture to mom’s head, siblings are arch nemesis but they would turn best pals or partners-in-crime when they plan something diabolic together. Brothers are the human ATMs for sisters and sisters are the protective shield for the brothers. The relationship that a brother and sister share is something precious and nobody can understand the dynamics of it, not even the mother.
And I am no different. Raksha Bandhan is a very special day for me, major reason being all the gifts I get. Sisters from every nook and corner of the country must be making merry today. I know, I know being a sister is the best part of a sibling relationship. We get pampered by our brothers on this day. All the rivalry is pushed aside and only affections, sentiments prevail and even our mothers stay sane for a day.
But few days back I came across an article which called Raksha Bandhan a sexist ritual. It left me shocked. A festival that celebrates the relationship of siblings, from where did patriarchy and feminism fit in?
The writer in that particular article says this whole festival promotes patriarchal mentality whereby the sister begs the brother to protect her. And she goes on to question if they are showing women as the weaker sex that they cannot protect themselves and men as the stronger sex. This promotes male chauvinism and this is what leads to crimes against women.
I agree that women are not weak and can protect themselves. But this writer has completely misconstrued the significance of a beautiful ritual.
Many have a wrong notion that the rakhi that a sister ties on her brother’s hand is for him to protect her. Sadly the tradition is misconstrued. In our ancient Hindu tradition, there is a ritual where a sacred thread is tied on people who go out of the house to ward off all the evil from them. A wife tied it for her husband; a sister tied it for her brother and vice versa. So basically Raksha Bandhan is ritual where the sister ties a sacred thread on her brother’s wrist, praying that all evil spirits are kept away from him. And in return she gets a gift as a token of love from her brother.
Now I do not see any patriarchal mentality or sexism in this. It is not necessary that we bring feminism in everything that we celebrate. I am a feminist but I do not bring forth the debate of women being viewed as inferior creatures in everything we do. Let’s not change the essence of feminism. Before we pass an insensitive remark on traditions and rituals that many follow, it is always good to know the significance of such rituals.
Raksha Bandhan is a simple ritual that celebrates the pure and innocent bonding of a brother and sister. It is a day that brings families together and that adds smiles on every face in the family. Let us keep it that way and not bring in the topic of feminism, sexism and other irrelevant issues into it.
Let us love and spread love.
Happy Raksha Bandhan everyone.