Evolution of Gender Roles in Celebrations like Rakhshabandhan

Every year as the Rakhi day (Rakshabandhan) approaches, I get wistful about tying a pretty little thread around my baby brother’s wrist. I think fondly of all those past celebrations of this Indian festival shared with my little brother.

This day holds a gentle place in the hearts of those who share it and the magic to take them flying through time to to their shared a childhood. A gesture or moment they may share or maybe pass as tradition to their own children.

If you see the #RakhiThali you will see there are no traditional laddoos but chocolate. As kids don’t prefer laddos or Indian sweets too much and #Rakhshabandhan is pretty much their day, I add a chocolate or dessert they love to the thali.

Same way, as with changing times, Rakhi is no more the traditional sister ties thread to brother celebration anymore. It’s a celebration of the sibling bond, between boys, girls, girls and boys. When we were young, we didn’t just tie #rakhi to our sibling, it would be tying to cousins and friends who are like that. Safe to say with times, this too has changed.

Both my kids tie Rakhi to each other and exchange gifts. It’s a celebration of their LOVE for each other. They PROMISE to care for each other, fight and make up 😁 and be there no matter what.

In fact, if you see the origin stories of Rakshabandhan or Rakhi, you will see it has always been a feminist celebration where the thread of protection Rakhi, tied to the brother is what protects him. Also, in most all stories, the Rakhi has been used by women to get what they want or desire by a promise needed for the safety of their loved ones.

Rakshabandhan – An Indian Festival For Siblings

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Rakshabandhan Celebration

This festival thus inspires bravery and fondness among those who celebrate it. I remember when I was small we used to create our very own Rakhis and mail them from Kuwait to India to all our cousins. Today, with the very many options available online and shipping being so expensive online stores come to the rescue and we just pick our favorite designs and have them shipped to our beloved family members.

In our home, I tie it to my son and my daughter ties it to her father and brother. My husband’s sisters from India mail him their Rakhis and I decorate a Thali with flowers, sweets, diya and the Rakhis. On any occasion decorating these is my favorite thing to do.

We bathe and celebrate early morning. After prayer, the brother sits and the sister puts Tika on the forehead, does Aarti of the brother (circles the plate around the brother’s face) and then ties the Rakhi and feeds him the sweet. The brother then, irrespective of his age takes blessings of his sister for a long, prosperous and protected life!

Ideally, the brother gifts the sister whatever she wishes on this day. But as commercialization and gender equality has crept in parents often gift both the brother and sister with presents to ensure they both feel celebrated! My kids love partaking in all the rituals and enjoy their gifts.

We have even added a tradition that they have to buy a gifts for each other under $10 and they are not allowed to tell each other what it is. It has added a great element to it.

And then as any festival in India, there is a lavish meal of Indian delicacies. I usually make any meal celebrating the brother and sister with whatever dishes they most enjoy.

What I love the most about our festivals is the colors and small traditions. Today morning, my daughter and I planned the day, including the menu. Spent the morning cooking together, the kids decorated the thali while we listened to hymns. Then we chatted with family back home and after the ceremony had a lovely meal.

Some ways kids can build life lessons those is by

1. Buying gifts for each other under a given amount.
2. Make cards for each other.
3. Cooking the meal together as a family, setting up the table fancy – the day of.
4. Help decorating the traditional thali together.
5. Listen to stories and talk about all the wonderful reasons they love each other.

Happy Rakhshabandhan to all celebrating!! Wishing all sibling and loved ones a bond that only grows with time…

This is the first year when I got a rakhi too. My little one said, “Mama, you do so much. I promise to take care of you too. ” #heartmelting !!

You can check out my other posts on how this tradition has evolved over time and how we can make it more meaningful for kids in THIS generation.

Do share your silly stories of your siblings with us.

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