Yesterday was Rakshabandhan. The festival is all about brothers and sisters, so this was the first year that Ayaan could legitimately participate, having a baby sister and all.
All these years, I have never thought twice about the way the festival is traditionally celebrated - the sisters tie rakhis on their brothers, the brothers vow to protect the sisters and the sisters in turn pray for the well-being of their brothers. I simply followed the ritual and tied rakhis on all my brothers and cousin brothers.
But having my own daughter made me stop and think about the inherent chauvinism in the whole process and how that somehow made the whole festival something of an anachronism. In the days in which the festival of Rakshabandhan came to be, women were truly the weaker sex and therefore the presence and protection of the male members of their families (fathers, brothers and husbands) was not something that could be taken lightly.
But centuries on, much has changed, especially in the socio-economic strata that my children and I inhabit. I find it hard to imagine that Tarana will be the weaker sibling, in dire need of her brother's protection. I think they will both go through challenging times and I hope they will retain the love in their hearts that will help to provide help, support, encouragement, protection or whatever else is the need of the hour to each other.
So like many of my friends and acquaintances, I have decided to tweak and update the ritual to make it more contemporary. In our house, rakhi will be about celebrating about the sibling bond and both Ayaan and Tarana will tie a rakhi on each other, with everything else that that entails.
We made a start this year, though Tarana was a rather unwilling participant. She was most upset at having some random thread tied on her wrist and wailed while I guided her finger to put the tilak on Ayaan's forehead. In the middle of all this chaos, no pictures were taken of the actual rakhi-tying since Jai is travelling and I have only one pair of hands.
But I did manage to get some pictures once the rakhis were tied and Tarana had deigned to calm down. Here's the proud boy displaying all his rakhis:
The Winnie The Pooh (his favourite cartoon character) rakhi was from Tarana. The ladybug one was bought for Tarana but the tubelight came on in time to realise that the cute spotted fellows were choking hazards, so I found a plain red thread rakhi for her. The ladybug one was promptly appropriated by Ayaan and I got the junior maid (he calls her didi) to tie it for him. The big yellow one was made in school, along with this card for Tarana:
This is the front of the card - he said that he drew this so that she can learn about shapes :)
This was the inside of the card - a random selection of words he can spell, in a mish-mash of lower and upper case letters.
And this was on the back of the card. The 'TR' is supposed to indicate that that stick figure is indeed Tarana and the sun is shining down on her, with an arrow for emphasis.
I thought it was awfully cute :)
This post wouldn't be complete without a shot of a disgruntled Tarana, eyeing her rakhi suspiciously, so let me sign off with that :)