On Rakshabandhan and freeing the bandhan from the Raksha

Rakshan Bandhan, a beautiful bond between the brother and sister, a festival of sibling love right?
Ahem !! Then where does the Rasha (protection) fit in?
The moment the brother has to “protect” the sister , isn’t the girl is automatically rendered weaker , the damsel in distress who needs help?

May be it stemmed from a time when the girl was wedded off to a different city and needed a reason for a visit from someone from her maternal home, even after her parents passed away , this would be that link. A time when cell phones and helplines did not exist?

I remember countless evenings when after a late college program , a well meaning teacher would tell a classmate , 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?

…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?

…Why don’t we see the root problem when every time the hero’s sister gets kidnapped /raped, to satisfy a man’s fight? The brother swore in 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 in 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, so that the male members can get education, get a job and uplift their families. May be raksha bandhan in those homes , is a promise from the brother, not to forget the sacrifices and 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 care of the child when the family is away. May be this is a time to say thanks for keeping a watch , so I can breathe safe, to them 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, can we may be 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. Do we want to say that if Draupadi had not tied that sari cloth once, He wouldn’t 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. Treat it like a friendship band and tie a rakhi to each other. 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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