Going Beyond TraditionsSeptember 23, 2021
Celebrating RAKSHA BHANDAN; Going Beyond Traditions
Raksha Bandhan is a popular Hindu ceremony that is celebrated every year around August (on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar). Traditionally it involves a sister tying a thread bracelet with a charm or amulet, called a rakhi, onto her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the tie between them, particularly the brother's pledge to protect his sister and her prayer for his welfare. The brother then gives his sister a gift to confirm this relationship, and they may also exchange sweets.
At SHARE the artisans have been putting their own spin on Raksha Bandhan. This year they resolved to focus on the one person who has been their biggest support during this difficult period of Covid. This could be a sister, other relative, colleague, or anyone else whose help they want to acknowledge. Some of their choices are unconventional, but heartfelt. In addition, the artisans continued to celebrate in an eco-friendly way, making their rakhis at home with recycled and found materials. Last year the women also made face masks and gloves to give as tangible protection.
We made it into a friendly competition, choosing the 3 best-made rakhis from each of the artisan groups. There was an overwhelming response, and some of the designs were extremely creative. Reshma Parmar from WARE created a rakhi which incorporated a small replica of a sewing machine, a symbol of her love and respect for her work.
ANITA SAKPAL, EKTA CO-OPERATIVE
"I tied the Rakhi to my mother-in-law, Hirabai Sakpal from Arpan Cooperative, as I wanted to acknowledged and thank her for all the support that she has always given me. She is not the typical mother-in-law - in fact she is the opposite. She not only helps me in all the household work but also emotionally and financially. When I am visiting my mother's house or going out she gives me extra money to enjoy myself. It is a blessing to have her in my life."
SADHANA VISHWAKARMA, WARE COLLECTIVE
"Sara, also from WARE Collective, is very dependable and supportive. I can share everything with her, things that sometimes I can't share with my family. I have two brothers but with Sara I know what it feels like to have a sister. She fills the role of a sister and best friend in my life. Sara is also very sensible and gives me good advice on things I am confused about or not sure about."
SUNAINA VISHWAKARNA, SAHARA COLLECTIVE
"Though this festival is for a brother, I tied Rakhi to my husband because this festival is also about protection and bonding. And he is my biggest support. He understands me and gives me the freedom to do things the way I like. Between us, whoever comes home first does the household work; it is not just my responsibility as a wife. I want our bond of understanding to always remain the same."
PRIYANKA JAISWAL, NIRMAAN COLLECTIVE
"I tied a Rakhi to my sister-in-law, Jagruti Pise. We do everything together; we especially enjoy shopping together. My parents and family are in back in my native village, but I don't miss them that much because of the love and care of my sister-in-law. She is married too so whenever she comes, we cook together and catch up on everything that is going on in each other's lives. She understands and supports my work so whenever there is need I can leave my kids with her to attend meetings or finish urgent pieces."
SHABANA SHAIKH, AASHIYANA CO-OPERATIVE
"After we lost our parents 10 years ago, it was my elder sister Salma who took their place for me. We have a brother but he lives separately and does not care for us. I have many marital problems and sometimes I lose hope. She takes cares of me and supports me both emotionally and financially when there is acute need. I don't have a lot of money or jewelry but that is ok, because I have my sister, she is the most precious thing for me."
RADHA SINGH, EKTA COOPERATIVE
"Ganesh is our only child and I didn't want him to miss out on the ritual and the sentiments attached to Raksha Bandhan as he does not have a sister. I wanted to make the day special for him so I made a Rakhi with chocolates on it. With this ritual I also wish a bright future for him and a strong bond between us."
GEETA JAISWAL, EKTA CO-OPERATIVE
"My brother is my biggest support system. I was having problems with my husband and in-laws for a long time but when they refused to let my daughter study further because she is a girl I could not bear the abuses anymore. But I would not have been able to do anything if I did not get the support to take the difficult step of leaving. I stay with my mother now and have started working at Arpan recently (6 months) while my daughter is staying in Pune with my brother and his family. She is in her last year of college, and my brother has taken care of all the expenses for her studies and is making her and my dream come true. I am very lucky to have him as my brother."
RAMILA SOLANKI, NIRMAAN COLLECTIVE
"Raksha means 'protection' and that is what I want to promise Vijita, my daughter-in-law. That is why I chose to tie the Rakhi to her. We both need to be there for each other, support each other and protect each other through all that comes our way in life. If we are strong and together then we can face everything, that is what I tell Vijita. We have a very good relationship, like a mother and daughter, and I want to make it even stronger in the years to come."