I remember waking up on the day of rakshabandhan with two rakhis in my hand, one for my father and one for my grandfather (we’re two sisters) . Being a young girl the festival just meant that I would get to have sweets and money which I would immediately use to buy the latest Archie, Champak or Tinkle.
Now this was a festival that came every year and as I grew up we religiously followed it. One fine day, I looked beyond the dairy milk and the money and asked my grandmother the significance of this festival. She told me a story from the Indian mythology which I forget (and don’t have the patience to google) but what I took away from it was that this festival celebrated the bond between a brother and his sister. Basically, by tying a thread around his wrist, a sister seeks her brother’s lifelong protection and prays for him in return. And “protection by a brother” was the term that I came to associate Rakshabandhan for the longest time.
Frankly, I’m not a religious person. But against the backdrop of the giant strides women have made to seek equality in all forms(with demanding entrance into temples they are forbidden to enter to rejecting old patriarchal traditions), I believe I come up lacking.
I remember my aunt(my father’s sister who has a son I send rakhis to) used to send rakhis for my father through the mail with a sweet letter.
And now this is a letter I write to her daughter:
I’ve looked up to you as long as I can remember. You punched an IAS’s son (who deserved it) and I remember our grandfather being so proud of that!
You were a badass before badass was even coined! You were a tomboy when it wasn’t cool to be a tomboy. And there is still a part of you that remains so. As you grew up, you blossomed into the awesomeness that you are today. I saw you as growing up to be fearless, independent and incredibly hardworking. Whatever situation was put in front of you, you faced it. Even if there were any setbacks, you got there in the end. You’ve always known your limits and I respect you for that. I’ve seen you taking up everything with this enthusiasm (your dancing for instance) losing your inhibitions in the process.
So if it comes to it and someday I need protection and advice, I shall be coming to you instead!
Happy Raksha Bandhan! (In advance)
Now there will be people who’ll tell me not to inflict my feminist crap on their festivals/traditions. This isn’t about the fight for women’s rights, feminism etc. This isn’t a fight. Period. I’m not asking you to do the same. I’m not asking anything.
This is my thing, so butt out.