Modern day rakhi: customs may have changed but the fun remains the same.
Modern day rakhi: customs may have changed but the fun remains the same. | Credit: India

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Modern day rakhi: customs may have changed but the fun remains the same.

Aug 26, 2018

Rakhi is an important festival in most parts of India. The festival is a symbol of love, commitment and bonding between siblings, mainly between a brother and a sister. The sister ties a rakhi (a braided thread) onto the hands of her brother/brothers as a promise of life-long love and the brother gifts the sister sweets, jewellery, or whatever she likes along with a promise to always protect her. While it may seem like a move in the wrong direction in today’s age of feminism to expect a brother to protect her sister, it is still relevant today as a festival that celebrates the unique bond between a sister and brother that is a concoction of protectiveness, love, possessiveness, pride, love and support.

A brother stands like a pillar of support in the life of a sister and very few people can match this kind of love. In fact, many women feel this bond not just with their own brothers but with many of their male friends as well. Of course, this is true vice versa too. Sisters stand by their brothers no matter what and will always look out for them no matter what.

The bond of siblings is one step higher than friendship. That is why when people stay friends for a long time and become close, they regard each other as siblings and they become family.

Many things have changed over time and traditions have been re-invented. But, the spirit of rakhi and the spirit of sibling love have remained. So, in today’s times, let us see some new scenarios that come up during the festival of rakhi.

The long-distance rakhi

With many siblings living in different parts of the world, it is difficult to keep up with the rituals that rakhi entails. However, many siblings are keeping the tradition alive by sending across a rakhi through courier services and exchanging gifts in the same way. They also order a rakhi or gift online and specify the address of the brother/sister so that it is delivered to them. In this way, they carry forward their bond as a long-distance relationship.

The gender-ambiguous rakhi

Rakhi is a symbol of the strength of the bond that siblings share and this is seen in a more gender-neutral way today. It is not just sisters who tie a rakhi to their brothers anymore but brothers are tying it to sisters as well. Also, sisters are tying rakhi to each other and brothers are doing the same too. This is refreshing and promotes a feeling of brotherhood among all people.

The virtual rakhi

Again when siblings live apart in different parts of the world, they are taking advantage of virtual rakhis instead of sending actual rakhis to be delivered to their siblings. Just like virtual greeting cards, a virtual rakhi emulates a rakhi and delivers wishes from your sibling to you. As long-distance siblings try their best to erase the distance and strengthen their bond, this is a novel way that helps them to that end 

The old-world rakhi

This is the traditional way that is now known as the old-world way where a sister makes her brother sit down and takes aarthi to ward off evil energies around him. She then applies tilak on his forehead and ties a rakhi to his hand and seeks his protection and love for life. The brother then takes out the gift that he has bought for his sister and gives it to her as he vows to always be with her.

The forgotten rakhi

Let us face it, we hardly have time in our fast-paced lives to remember what date it is each day. We forget birthdays, anniversaries and yes that list includes the date of rakhi as well. Many a time, either one of the siblings or both of them forget that it is rakhi and they sheepishly wish each other belated wishes later. Even then, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are each other’s constant support system for life!