How my Raksha Bandhan is not a blood tie
Every year around August, the streets of India become even more colorful than they usually are. In small luxury stores and shopping centers, the rakhis go out on display; for you see, on the first full moon of the Hindu month of Shravana, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated throughout the Indian subcontinent.
This vibrant thread weaves the diverse peoples of India in a way that few others do because after all, in a country of a billion people, there cannot be many generalizations.
However, the only Indian constant is the presence of people. The only constant in my childhood memories is an endless list of grandparents and great uncles; first cousins and those people we call aunt but I don’t really know what we’re related to.
In this country at the head of the Indian Ocean, it’s all about family.
Yes, that means that there is always someone to listen to you and that you never really have to face things alone, but conversely, there is little. Following than family. Our lives only begin with blood relatives, and in many cases, they are expected to end the same.
Culturally, the family is our way of life. Each festival is about family, or family, or for the family. Marriage is the union of two families and the birth of a child is a celebration of the beginning of a New family. Families have been our way of surviving for thousands of years now.
But generally, the family is an unspoken subtext.
This is what makes Raksha Bandhan unique.
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival, celebrated to honor the bond between brother and sister. Literally translated, Raksha Bandhan, ways “A bond of protection”.
The festival doesn’t really have a traceable origin story, but historically a sister ties an amulet – usually made of gorgeous red or gold thread and dazzled up to the sky – to her brother’s wrist as a symbol of protection and receives a gift to come back.
In the modern era of metropolitan India, the festival is more about celebrating the brotherly relationship as a whole. But, still, that was never really a big part of my childhood, because I didn’t have a sister.
However, I had a lot of friends.
Indian popular culture has a very specific take on male-female friendships – in that they believe they can’t exist. Every Bollywood movie and its grandfather have a basic plot where ek ladka and ek ladki start out as friends, but the movie always ends in a wedding, because obviously there was a latent romantic attraction that took an hour and at least two musical numbers to manifest.
The fact that so many men see “clues” where there are none is perhaps due to the fact that even modern films like “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil ” peddle the tale that the only real highlight of male-female friendships is romance. Look man, I’m gonna scream “Channa Mereya ” at the top of my lungs every time I even feel slightly embarrassed, but this whole scene in the movie makes me want to alt + F4 my cache.
If I had a rupee for every movie that peddled the ‘ladka aur ladki dost nahi reh sakte‘ narrative, maybe I could pay for the therapy I absolutely need.
The decree of our culture is that friendships between boys and girls can only exist as a precursor to something romantic. This belief, combined with his complete ignorance of what real romantic relationships really are, means that every time fourteen-year-old boys talk to fourteen-year-old girls, other fourteen-year-old boys make horrible kissing sounds. from the back of the classroom. .
It is this deep desperation for the legitimization of male-female friendships and the preservation of the innocence of those friendships that brought out another meaning in Raksha Bandhan in today’s India.
Because the boys in my class would not stop and because the school teachers kept looking at us strangely, my closest friend approached me one day in ninth grade and, in the middle of the Sanskrit class, tied a cotton thread pale blue on my wrist. I gave him a lightning bolt in return.
Do you want to hear the really sad part? It did work a bit. People have grown cold; the teachers have calmed down. We could talk again because we were now “sister and brother”. At the time, we both laughed at the ingenious loophole we had found. But, looking back, it’s a pretty grim reality.
So we continued. In tenth grade, when I gave her a ridiculous multicolored candle and she tied a red string around my wrist. Then, in eleventh grade, when we met at a bus stop because we were in different schools. And again in the twelfth grade, when I think I gave him a comb.
We’re 21 now, and I’m meeting her next week; because, yeah, it started out weird, but now it’s tradition (and an excuse for our mothers to talk). I haven’t chosen a gift yet, but I hope the rakhi is silver. I have no money rakhi Again.
She’s still not my sister, not by blood, but that’s what Raksha Bandhan Means to me. She is one of my best friends. She calls out to me during my crazy moods. She teases me about the stupid things I did in college. Family isn’t just about blood, and friendships aren’t as frivolous as many think.
It worked pretty well for us. All we wanted to do was sit down together for lunch and have fun. This little thread helped us do it. But that’s not all rakhi maybe.
In many cases, what the rakhi has become a way for women to say “no” that men apparently listen to. It’s a basic and socially sanctioned way to make sure a relationship stays platonic. As if to say: “You are my anna now so you can’t hurt me “,” you are my brother now, so you have to protect me. “
Because the family protects; and here, in this country at the head of the Indian Ocean, it’s all about family.