Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Redefining Rakshabandhan

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 :)


  1. so cute ro. i love. love, love the card ayaan made t. the details are just wayy cute :D

  2. The last pic is just priceless!!! Dhruv used to look like that too! He managed to keep it on for a bit longer this year!

    Oh and I love TR's hairstyle in the card :P

  3. Aww! Such a cute post :) They look so adorable..and the Card is so amazing....

  4. Sibling bond is a wonderful tweaking of the rakhi idea! And realised will work especially well when the siblings are all of the same sex.

    Must say your blog is also a bit of social commentary on how modern day parents adopt religious and cultural traditions for a new generation!

  5. Hello

    Here thru Mindful Meanderer . What a lovely written post n i jus love love the cards that ur lil one has made esp the text part is so cute ....

    - Smita

  6. Aww lookit. Just lookit all that.

    You get your ass down to Cal soon and bring my Spidey and Ayaan with you.

  7. Anonymous6:42 pm

    Not sure you remember me, used to have a blog (well its still there but no updates on it for a while booboosmamma). Long Story short i have a four year old son and two weeks back i gave birth to a baby girl, Anushka. I never had a brother and Rakhi is not celebrated in my part of India. But since Aditya is gettig a baby sister i wanted to celebrate Rakhi but, i was not at all in favor of the traditional method where brother promises to protect the sister and in turn she ties a rakhi and he gives some toy or money. instead yesterday we celebrated this day and a brother n sisters day. Anu tied Rakhi to Adi and vice versa. both of them exchanged toys. and he said i love to her and she will say it next year cos she cant speak yet. i am happy there are other women who think like me.

  8. I love Ayaan's cards! He is so cute:)
    Poor little Tarana not liking her raakhee.
    I really love this new form of raksha-bandhan. My niece has two daughters, with no male first cousins either, and the two sisters tie raakhees onto each other's wrists, and promise to be there for each other always. It makes sense this way.

  9. The last pic is so lovely .... how long did she keep the rakhi ?
    And the card is so adorable ...

  10. The Rakhi's on the little brother's hand are so cute and so proudly sported :) The last picture absolutely takes the cake!

  11. The card is extremely cute. The smiling cat with a crooked tail - awwww.

  12. artnavy8:54 pm

    so cute!!

    adi "tied" it to anush since she is the younger one... though as time goes by i am not sure who will be more in need of protection....:-)

  13. It feels like yesterday when Tarana was born.... she has become so big now!

  14. [Mona] It so interesting how their minds work :)

    [Starry] I just noticed the hairstyle when you mentioned it :D

    [R's Mom/ Smita/ Shankari/ The Print Lover] Thanks :)

    [Anita] Social commentary? Whoa! Those are the biggest word anyone has ever used to describe my blog :)

    [Sue] Yes, ma'am! *salutes* Anything else, ma'am? :p

    [Booboosmamma] Hey, I remember your blog. Why did you stop?

    [Dipali] It makes much more sense in today's day and age. I like what your niece has done. Why should same sex siblings miss out on the opportunity to celebrate their bond?

    [CA] I tied it pretty firmly so it was there for almost two days :)

    [Art] You never know :)

    [Aathira] Tell me about it. My little baby is growing up waaaaay too fast *sniff*

  15. This has to be the cutest card ever made - thanks for the smiles!

  16. Loved the details on the much thought went into it. Since Rakhi is all about protecting and caring -my daughters tie it for each other. We do need to customize traditions to keep them relevant!

  17. Anonymous11:44 am

    awwww.. Ayaan is sooooo cute, I swear. And disgruntled describes Taraana to a T! LOL! I wish you'd had an extra pair of hands to take that pic of them tying it to each other...

  18. That card is soo soo cute.

  19. I love love love everything on Ayaan's card.Super super cute and very thoughtfully done.
    Tarana looks adorable staring at her rakhi like that.And I so agree with the idea of both of them tying rakhis for each other.

  20. lovely post! ayaan's card is adorable.

    i stopped sending a rakhi to cousins when i realised that i die before they'd have to "protect" me, and also no gifts/money were being mailed back to me as deligently as i used to send a rakhi.

    sanah and her cousin sister who lives closeby have been tying a rakhi to each other since their first year.

  21. - this is so cute :)
    - my son has this 'arrow' factor too :D

  22. love the drawings...and Tarana's mutinous look!

  23. Preeti10:18 pm

    Hey! Nice spin on updating the traditions of Rakhee. Though we don't really celebrate Rakshabandhan, L has been tying Rakhees for her two cousins, and of course U from this year on. And actually, there is anyways a two way exchange of gifts as no one likes to get left out of that:)

    But I like the thought (and thought process) of two way Rakhee tying as well. I think I'll include this as part of our rituals from next year on.

  24. Preeti10:21 pm

    PS: As many others have said, the card was really cute, and really have to appreciate Ayaan's artistic abilities. Of course, T looking adorable as well. Love the expression on her face:)

  25. [Choxbox] :) So cyber detox means you are still reading? ;)

    [Hypermom/ Bubble Catcher/ Preeti] I find it's quite the trend these, siblings tying rakhis to each other irrespective of gender.

    [JLT] Well, the pictures would probably just have been a blur anyway since Ayaan was at his hyperactive best and Tarana was wriggling and wailing :)

    [Swaram/ Gayatri] Thanks :)

    [Sur] I still send a whole bunch out to my brother and cousins. It's a family tradition now and I don't want to break it because I think people would be hurt. Plus I do get money/ gifts so there is some incentive :)

    [Uttara] LOL! Yeah, she was mutinous all right.

  26. Loved the truly educational greeting card. And Tarana is just delicious!

  27. The look on T's face is just priceless!!! The card is super cute :)

  28. so cute your kids! does ayaan write the J backwards. mine has been doing that for the longest time and it drives me up the wall :(

  29. Anonymous9:58 pm

    Lovely post! and great photos!

    As a southie I didnt know much about Rakhi and never celebrated one. But living up west now, my kids (Dayanand and Divya) got to celebrate it at playschool ... now I realize why Divya had a rakhi in hand ... so that is the contemporary idea haan? I never knew that! I looked at her hand and thought may be she really cried after seeing all boys getting one and got it tied by the teacher! :))) ... So may be that, they actually made Dayanand tie it to Divya ... thats interesting! :) i am guessing that reading your idea ...

  30. Aashica3:23 pm

    Sweet- and awesome card :) And appreciate your take on Raakhi