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Broadening the Circle of Protection: Raksha Bandhan Beyond Brothers

Raksha Bandhan, a cherished Indian festival, traditionally emphasizes the protective bond between brothers and sisters. Yet, as families grow and evolve, so do their celebrations. Many families, including mine, have extended the rakhi ceremony to include not just brothers, but also sister-in-laws, nieces, and nephews – signifying that they too are an integral part of our protective circle.

Reinventing Traditions

In our family, Raksha Bandhan is a comprehensive family affair. Growing up, my aunts would tie rakhis on my mother, brother, and me. As my brother and I got married, the tradition shifted slightly, with us no longer receiving rakhis from our aunts, but now from our sisters and cousin sisters.

Today, I ensure to send rakhis to my brothers, their wives, and their children. In a similar vein, my daughter ties rakhis to her brothers, their wives, and recently, her sisters and cousin sisters too.

Sisters Tying Rakhis on Sisters

The extension of this tradition to sisters is a powerful demonstration of solidarity and protection. It sends a profound message that sisters, too, are a source of protection and support for each other. My daughter makes it a point to include a personalized note with each rakhi she sends to her sisters, assuring them of her support and protection.

Examples in Hindu Mythology

Interestingly, the custom of tying rakhis on those beyond one’s brothers finds echoes in Hindu mythology as well. The legend of Lord Krishna and Draupadi comes to mind, where Draupadi, a queen, ties a strip of her saree on Krishna’s wrist, symbolically turning him into her brother. Krishna reciprocated this gesture by providing her protection when she needed it the most.

Inspired Changes: The Pink Ladoo Project

An initiative aligning with our broadened view of Raksha Bandhan is the Pink Ladoo Project. This movement inspires South Asian families to revise and re-evaluate traditional practices. They share powerful stories of women who’ve challenged sexist customs, fostering a wave of change in our communities.

The Pink Ladoo Project also advocates changing the Raksha Bandhan tradition, just as we’re discussing here. By adjusting these customs to reflect modern values, we can maintain tradition while promoting equality. This Raksha Bandhan, let’s take a leaf from the Pink Ladoo Project’s book and push boundaries in our traditions.

For more inspiration and stories of change, visit their Instagram profile: Pink Ladoo.

Broadening the Protective Circle

Raksha Bandhan, therefore, doesn’t need to be confined only to brothers. It can be an occasion to recognize and celebrate all the protective bonds in a family. In extending the rakhi ritual to sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, and sisters, we broaden our protective circle, acknowledging that each member of our family is precious and deserves to feel safeguarded.

This year, let’s celebrate Raksha Bandhan with a wider perspective, fostering a sense of unity, mutual respect, and protection. After all, Raksha Bandhan is not just about the bond between brothers and sisters, but also about the love and respect between all family members. Let’s embrace this broader understanding of the festival and ensure all our loved ones feel the warmth of our protective circle.

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