Amongst many things, the beauty of our country lies in the varied festivals that are celebrated across the length and breadth of our great nation – festivals celebrating deities, nature, seasons and even relationships. One such festival is around the corner, Rakshabandhan.
Rakshabandhan, or Rakhi, celebrates the bond of love between brother and sister. As various stories ago, depending on which part of the country you hear them in, the essence of this festival lies in the promise of protection that sisters seek from their brothers and brothers vowing to keep their sisters safe and happy. While this is a beautiful sentiment, I have often wondered what about those people who have a same-gender siblings? Or even a single child, who has no sibling?
For years, I have been tied rakhi to my cousins and I intend to continue with that practice. However, from this year, I have decided that I will tie rakhi to my younger sister also. It is a symbolic gesture to show that she has been y pillar of support in difficult times and continues to do so.
My sister and I have always been labelled as non-conformists, rebels and sometimes eccentric too. This has been mainly because our parents brought us up in a non-traditional way (well, as much as they could) and encouraged independent thinking. Being parents of two daughters, they were often subjected to sympathy for the lack of having a son. This societal “concern” about the bleak future that awaited our parents when they grew old affected both of us equally. It strengthened our resolve to not just say but also prove it to the world that daughters are in no way less than sons. And I am proud to say that we did it!
So, taking this belief a step further, assisted by wisdom acquired with age and more with facing hardships, I have decided to break from the “brother being the protector” norm. My sister has been my support and protector as any sibling should, and I will tie her to the rakhi this year and for all the years to come. I only regret not starting this sooner.
Make Rakshabandhan the festival that not only celebrates the brother-sister bond but a celebration of sibling love. And even if you don’t have a sibling, use this occasion to show your appreciation to people who may or may not be bonded to you by blood, but are always there beside you when you need them.
The world around us is changing and therefore, we need to change too - we need to learn to build a bridge between the old and the new. Our culture and traditions are a big part of our identity, but they need to evolve with the changing times, especially those traditions which widen the gender gap and foster gender-role stereotypes. This requires a huge mindset shift but even the smallest of efforts taken now will go a long way.
My parents did not miss having a son and I, for sure, don’t miss having a brother – because I have a sister, which is even better!
About Jaspriya Gandhok :
I am a certified Emotional Wellness Coach, TEDx speaker and Learning Facilitator with over 20 years of experience, with expertise in designing and delivering bespoke learning solutions for individuals and organizations across industries. My ability to empathize and listen without prejudices helps me to make an impactful connection with my clients. I believe that each person must invest in improving their relationship with themselves. Creating one’s identity and finding a purpose in life can lead to harmony and balance in one’s life. I am passionate about helping people find their voice, express themselves and overcome self-limiting beliefs.
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