Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The myth about Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan, one of the most famous and widely celebrated festivals symbolizing the bond of love between a brother and a sister is finally upon us. This festival has been celebrated through the centuries, celebrated between kings and queens (of different empires, if they were of the same they would be most probably husband and wife), people belonging to different faiths and across borders. After saying all this one would wonder what the myth about it is. Well the myth is that for people it may be just a festival, but for us (i.e. boys in their youth) it’s a festival filled with tension and nightmares.

I remember the days in school. Obviously back then everything was fine and perfectly normal. More than that there was never a rat race for anything (by rat race I mean pataoing the most beautiful girl before someone else does). If like me you’ve also studied in a boy’s school then probably the race started quite late but with double the fierceness (I’m sure at this you’re going to say, “That explains everything”. All I have to say is that we only check out girls…were not some Havas Ke Pujari). But whatever, I guess it’s that age or rather times (the kids in my locality are in the 5th STD and they have at least 2 girlfriends each…wow what a start and what progress!!!). Raksha Bandhan in school meant much much more than simply brother-sister love and protection guarantee. At that age I guess the sister had to take care of her younger brother (in my case…having both sisters elder to me). So simply what the festival meant was totally out of the window. What mattered on that given day was who had the most number of rakhi's tied on his hand. The more the rakhi’s the more the respect. (It was like a status symbol). You can just imagine how people looked up to the one who topped. That guy had a level of his own (the way people feared him was like as if all his sisters would bang you up if u ever challenged his authority).

Also the more fanciful the rakhi the more it stood out. The more it stood out, the more people knew about it; the more people knew about it, the more people wanted to see it. You didn’t have to say or do anything; people would by themselves come up to u and say, “Can I see your rakhi???”…Imagine the pride and smile on the wearer’s face (I guess all that glitters was gold…. at least in those times). It was so easy to become popular. Back then, boys would ask their friends, “Have you seen my rakhi???” I seriously wonder if they may be asking this question now…hmmm (btw a hmmm means a hmmm…sometimes it also means I’m thinking…hehehe).
The race of for the most rakhi’s was so fierce that we boys used to use all our contacts to secure the top position. We used to promptly remind our sisters, friend’s sisters, sister’s friends, all the females around. After all in those days
1. Where did rakhi mean protection???….if anything went wrong I guess we would be the first to run away.
2. After a year’s time who remembered who tied whom a rakhi, so there was basically no kind of khatra.
3. In a way the girls liked it too. All my sister’s friends used to tie me a rakhi and pamper me by saying so cute, so sweet. The pulling of cheeks and nose was painful, but I guess it was tolerable. Though the best part was that no kind of gifts or money was expected in return…wonder why that can’t happen nowadays).

Well they say (who are they, I don’t know) that as you grow times change. But it would change so much was not known. Finally the day donned upon me that Rakhi meant much much more that what it seemed (after all Murkh Balak, there's more than what meets the eye). It now had a new meaning. From now it meant and only meant, lifelong punishment, lifelong torture, shattering of all dreams and desires that too within seconds. The perception had finally changed forever. Now how could you ever check out a girl who has tied you a rakhi? She’s your sister after all. Fearing this fact I (and I’m sure most of the boys might have) made a dash for the exit whenever a girl entered. If you came to know that a girl is searching or looking out for you, you would hide yourself in unimaginable places just to escape her. Not meeting her on that day was instead a blessing. You could compensate for it some other time, but not on Raksha Bandhan. The rakhi with its special powers (probably like the All Spark from ‘Transformers’) could change things forever (that’s probably one of the reasons you see such a low attendance of boys in colleges and work places on this day…after all prevention in better than cure…in this case unfortunately there's no cure).

But I guess there's something about this festival that just warms the heart. It’s something that I look forward to every year. Though I am a Christian, this festival is always observed in my family. Though people may find this a bit shocking, it’s true. After all Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival and has got nothing to do with one’s religion. Every year, my sisters make it a point to tie me a rakhi. If I’m not physically present, they will send me a rakhi by post about a month in advance so I can get it on time. Thanks to them I now have a rakhi collection ranging from cute teddy bear rakhi’s, Dennis the Menace, glitter to sandalwood rakhi’s. This collection is one of my priciest possessions.

So, go ahead and spread the warmth of this day and this relationship (make sure you gift your sister something good, or be prepared for her to take up this matter during every argument all through the year). Enjoy it in your own special way (i.e. either in hiding or showing it off). Happy Raksha Bandhan.

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