Online shopping websites and social media are flooded with rakhis that extend messages such as ‘Stay Safe Bhai’. Noida-based Shramita Govin, who is selling these rakhis as part of her collection, says, “People are finding the rakhi with the theme of ‘Stay Safe Bhai’ interesting, and ordering it like anything. Raksha Bandhan will be different this year and girls want the festival to be sweet yet relevant for their families. Online kaafi queries aa rahi hain… And one rakhi is for ₹150 plus shipping charges. In addition, people are also ordering for Nutella themed rakhi; I believe that’s because people have consumed so much of it during the lockdown.”
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Traditionally, siblings are gathered in a ritual, in which the sister wears a tilak on Kantala’s forehead and wears a rakhi or bracelet on her wrist. Rakhi herself serves as a protective band that ensures the safety of the brother and in return, she promises the same.
In the modern interpretation of this ritual, the roles can go any way. The focus shifts from the religious aspect to a more playful exchange of gifts and mutual understanding of peace, at least for a day! If one does not have an older brother, sometimes the rakhis are tied to the elder sister, sometimes the rakhis are tied to friends and distant relatives, especially in the case of single children. How it is handled, the essence remains the same, keeping connected with the person who takes care of you and follows you, always searching for you, gender, and relationships are secondary.