My earliest memory of Rakshabandhan is of me tying a rakhi to my younger brother and him in turn tying me a rakhi. After all, most of the protecting at the time was done by me, as I was the elder one and could kick butt. As we grew up we conformed to tradition and instead of a rakhi he would give me a gift which my mother and him would have shopped for the previous evening. At that time since love and money was more unconditional, my brother would insist on buying me an expensive necklace and my mother would veto it. Finally they would settle on a bow for my hair. We still carry on the tradition but the gift is usually a half-eaten box of chocolate which he would then forget to courier.
We celebrated Rakshabandhan at school too. We had rakhi ‘brothers’ who kept changing each year depending on whether they came to school that day. The ‘sisters’ who tied rakhi regularly each year to the same ‘brother’ usually went home with gifts but ‘spontaneous sisters’ like me would get a chocolate at best which was hastily purchased during recess. One year I bought rakhis in bulk, that year I had the whole class roster of boys as my brothers. As we grew up the number of rakhi brothers per sister ratio dwindled. Some didn’t really want to become siblings and some didn’t really care. Some guys though, asked that they be tied rakhi as they didn’t have sisters and wanted to share this festival with someone. One menace of Rakshabandhan was the girls tying rakhi to all and any potential admirers who she did not really like in a romantic sense and the other side of the story was the rakhi brother taking his brotherly responsibilities seriously and issuing diktats on the clothes I wore or the people I spoke to. So that became the end of rakhi brother’s for me and I stuck to the one sibling that I actually shared DNA with.
Rakshabandhan day also sees a lot of young brothers and sisters going on outings in their traditional fineries with the beaming brother with his hand full of rakhis riding the scooter and the sister riding pillion. This is usually in small town North India. India of big cities, I am sure celebrates but maybe not with as much furore. It is a wonderful tradition that calls for celebrating a bond that is usually in the background amongst the various other relationships that we celebrate. It is one festival that re affirms family ties in India. My son celebrated his first Rakshabandan at his day care this year and wore Indian ethnic clothes (cute right!). He is still young to understand what the fuss is all about but I hope he values family ties and learns to treat girls with respect as he grows up. Happy Rakshabandhan folks!
Cross-posted from Indian Moms Connect http://www.indianmomsconnect.com/2014/08/08/rakshabandhan-reminiscing-about-rakhi/