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Has Raksha Bandhan Found A New Meaning

Raksha Bandhan is a secular festival that cherishes the bond of love between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. The mythical context can be traced back to the time when Sachi tied a holy thread around Indra’s wrist for his well being and success or when Draupadi tore off a piece from her saree and tied it to krishna when he had cut his finger.

However beautiful these occasions maybe, they have a darker side to them. It’s become a normal practice nowadays to associate festivals with some or other social evil.Festivals are occasions for people to get together and hence closer. The very values that the festivals stand forget violated when people misuse ,misunderstand them, for e.g.,in 2015 men tied woman rakhi to seek protection from misuse of section 498A of the Indian penal code. Rakhi is a much cherished and awaited festivals among people because of the values it stands for,the love between brother-sister that it represents.

Brothers vow to protect their sisters and in return, the sisters tie them rakhis(sacred thread). Now just because the brothers vow to protect doesn’t necessarily mean that women need protection. They vow not because women are weak and have to be protected but because they love their sisters and want to protect them(voluntarily). Also over the years Rakhi has not just been celebrated between brothers and sisters but also other siblings. It is no longer a gender-centric festival.Sisters tie rakhis to sister because they have no brothers. All these lie in the true interest of Rakhi,as a festival where love is celebrated between siblings.

But, Rakhi may also be seen as patriarchal,focused on men,by men. It’s been greatly misunderstood as women being weak and unable to protect themselves. The problem, however, lies in the mindset of people,more than the festival. There is no denying that today with rakhi comes the attached notion of male superiority. Social evils and incests etc just further add to the point.

But one thing’s for sure,rakhi has almost become a joke these days. Just yesterday I came across people in my campus who were campaigning for an upcoming election. They were randomly asking women to tie them rakhis,asking them to vote for their newly made brothers. These are the same people who win votes on brother-sister basis and then fail to even acknowledge them as sisters. Do we need a more bitter example than this to understand how the significance of rakhi has changed over the years.

The sanctity it once was associated with can no longer hold true today. Women tie rakhis to all the male relatives on behalf of their sisters and others.people do it just for the sake of it because they have to,it’s a very old tradition and been followed all along. Where is the real will?Women have almost commercialized Rakhi. It’s been a one-stop destination for expensive gifts,show-pieces,rakhis,new sarees,jewellery.

In a modern society where men and women are considered equal,do we really need brothers to protect their sisters? Why do women need protection from the same kind of brothers they tie Rakhi too? We leave it unto you to decide whether the festivals is fair or square or if it is patriarchal in nature or anything.

By 2016 Rakhi has come out as an altogether different festival pertaining to a different set of values. Both brothers and sisters love each other and want to protect each other,so they can both tie rakhis to each other,eliminating the gender aspect totally and also at the same time keeping intact the principles of love,etc around which the festival is centered.

Samridhi Khemka

"You see me as you want to see me". A literature student at Hans Raj,shutterbug and binge-eater,I love watching movies and have a knack for experimentation.I am a bookworm and that's all that there is to me.

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