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Rakshabandhan…isn’t it better for the boy to promise to respect every woman instead, so he doesn’t need to ‘protect’ her?
Rakshan Bandhan, a beautiful bond between the brother and sister, a festival of sibling love, right?
Then where does the Raksha (protection) fit in?
The moment the brother is expected to ‘protect’ the sister, isn’t the girl automatically assumed to be weaker?
I remember countless evenings when after a late college program, a well-meaning teacher would ask a classmate of mine, ‘will you accompany her home’?
I used to always wonder how this thin, lanky boy, my age, not any stronger was really going to ‘protect’ me? Especially when I was the one trained in martial arts.
Then, you ask – who are they protecting you from? Other men? Then isn’t it better for the boy to promise to respect every woman instead, so he doesn’t need to ‘protect’ her?
Don’t we see this root problem when every time the hero’s sister gets kidnapped/ raped to take revenge in a men’s fight? The brother swore on Raksha Bandhan to protect her, so if the enemy succeeds in raping her, the brother has failed. Do we even note the toxicity of this thought that gets perpetrated through our movies and serials and lives everywhere?
In many homes with economic troubles, the daughters help in the kitchen and go to work much earlier, sacrifice their education, just so that the male members can get education, get a job and uplift their families. Maybe Raksha Bandhan in those homes is a promise from the brother to not to forget the love of the sister.
In homes where there are no sons, the girl is often encouraged to tie a rakhi to a cousin or even a friend or a neighbor. If it just sibling love, why not just tie a rakhi to your sister?
Think more about who is truly protecting you then – our soldiers, a policeman, the school security guard, the helper who takes care of the child when the family is away. Maybe this is a time to say thanks for keeping a watch, so I can breathe safe, and share a gift?
When you retell the great brother sister bond between Draupadi and Krishna, rather than focusing on the piece of sari she tied on Krishna’s hand because of which the Lord saved her from the Vastraharan, perhaps we should go deeper and look at the meaning of faith and surrender to the Lord in devotion. She called everyone in the court to see the injustice of the situation, but when nothing was working out, she turned to a greater power that gave her the solution to overcome the situation. If Draupadi had not tied that piece of her sari (the rakhi) around his finger, wouldn’t Krishna have answered her call?
Festivals are absolutely brilliant occasions for the families to join together and celebrate. Let us celebrate love and togetherness, promises of shared memories that should not be lost in the ravages of time. If we bring Raksha into it, it better well be for those who truly protect us, and then it has to be a brother and a sister tying a Rakhi to a building watchman, who makes sure they are safe when they sleep.
Incorporating changes doesn’t rob our culture of its essence. Customs and rituals need to progress with the times, so they still remain relevant and help the culture thrive. Then that will be a religion, a festival one wants to embrace, because it shapes the person you want to be, in a world you want to make.
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