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What does Raksha Bandhan mean to you?
Shilpa Shet
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August 27, 2007

Are you eager to get that band around your wrist? That band that symbolises love and support. No, we're not talking about a friendship band! Raksha Bandhan has rolled around once more, but does it still hold the significance it once did to brothers and sisters?


How many of us look forward to Raksha Bandhan? Says Guruprasad Kolvekar from Goa [Images], "I don't have a sister. But my cousins send me rakhis every year. I look forward to receiving them through mail. One of them never misses. It's a great feeling."


For boys who do not have sisters, seeing other guys with a rakhi can be an emotional moment. "Especially when you are young," says Guruprasad, "You want someone to tie a rakhi for you too. It's such a nice feeling."


In this age, where work takes you to all corners of the earth, many brothers live away from their sisters. Sandeep Patil from New Jersey says, "My sister lives in Bangalore. However, every year she sends me a rakhi via airmail. She never forgets. I normally send her a cheque. It feels great to stay connected with your sister even when you are so far away. My other friends envy me."


Sonal Kumar a student from Mumbai says, "No matter how modern you are in your dressing and outward image, in our hearts we always stick with our traditions. I love Raksha Bandhan. It's so much fun because my brother always gives me a surprise gift. Of course, there is lots of good food and general gaiety at home. My mother's brothers come sometimes and we have a great family celebration."


Not everyone though shares this enthusiasm, though. Pankaj Shinde, a software professional from Pune, says, "I don't have a sister. Someone back home did tie a rakhi when I was in college. But since the time I have been in Pune I don't have the privilege. I don't even have an off on that day." He says he feels bad that he does not have a rakhi on his wrist. "If I had a sister I could have done so many things for her," he says wryly.


While Pankaj does not have a sister, Taruna Verma from Mumbai does not have a brother. "I am an only child. Though I have never obviously felt the lack, it is during Raksha Bandhan that I seriously feel bad. I wish I had an elder brother. Someone who would cater to my whims. Someone who would get me what I want. So far my dad has managed to play that role," she says smiling.


There are some though who feel that a friendship band is much more exciting. "I don't have a sister," says Sam*, a college student, "I don't miss it too. I had loads of fun during friendship day. I tied friendship bands to more than 100 people. I am lucky to have 100 friends, including girls. I don't think Raksha Bandhan is so special."


Some feel that the whole band culture is something that has been created by the band sellers. "Be it friendship bands or rakhis, there is a distinct commercial motive to this thing," says Rahul Nair from Bangalore, "It is just hype created by card companies and band makers. When there is true love, one need not go around tying bands."


Sure enough, the web has added a new dimension to rakhi. There are portals offering gold, silver, pearl and even designer rakhis. These rakhis range from Rs 350 to Rs 1800. Websites are bursting with rakhi gift hampers that even deliver sweets, chocolates, perfumes, pens -- the works. All you need to do is pick something that fits your budget.


Not to forget the malls, jewellery and gift stores. The weekend saw them bursting at the hinges, thanks to people shopping for Raksha Bandhan and Onam. Says the cynical Sam, "People have the money, they just need an excuse to spend it. Raksha Bandhan is one such excuse."


*Names changed to protect privacy


So, what are your thoughts this Raksha Bandhan? Will you miss having your brother visit since he's out of the country? Will you be sending him a special rakhi online or by post? Have you bought your sister a surprise gift that'll blow her socks off? Tell us about your most memorable Raksha Bandhan experiences or write in with your special messages in the message board below.
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