Rakshabandhan in 2020: How it is going to be different…

“There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” –Astrid Alauda

Rakshabandhan is popular, traditionally Hindu, annual rite, or ceremony, which is central to a festival of the same name, celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture. The festival is a festival of love, care, and happiness. It symbolizes the existing love between brother and sister. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

Despite being a part of Hindu culture, due to its moral values, the festival is celebrated by other cultures as well. Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgment of their benefaction.

Every year, this festival has been awaited by all of us. It gives a chance for the celebration of a selfless and beautiful relation. For some families, this is the occasion where sisters get a chance (out of their busy schedule) to finally visit their brother and celebrate their love. The occasion begins from the previous day itself, with sisters buying beautiful rakhis and sweets for their brothers and applying Mehendi on their hands. Next early morning, both sisters and brothers dress up in new clothes. The sister ties Rakhi on brother’s hand offers him sweet and sings love songs for him depicting brother-sister relation. The brother then gives her sister a gift and along with that a promise of “protection against any problem in her life.”

Every year, this is the time when families travel to each others’ houses to celebrate the festival. But this time, the festival falls amid these harsh times when the whole world is standing against a pandemic, COVID-19. Rakshabandhan is the first major festival of Hindus after the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, it is a challenge for all of us to get along with the charm of the festival by taking all the precautions and by maintaining social distancing. This year, it is difficult for sisters to visit their brothers if they live in a different city or state. Each year, we can easily have a get-together and celebrate the festival. But, every year, we have our soldiers, policemen, doctors, workers who are away from their home, on their duty even during festivals for the service of their country. This time, we have got a very golden chance to serve our country and fight against the pandemic by staying at our homes. We can spread happiness and celebrate the festival with our police brothers, doctors, and nurses who are truly working as our safeguard for our protection. We can tie Rakhi out of respect to them, making them realize that they are true heroes and fulfilling the responsibilities of a brother. 

Apart from this, in this time of the internet, even though we are staying far, we are always connected through the internet. We are never apart. We can celebrate the festival over a video call. It will a new experience and it will be great fun. One more thing we need to remember that though some sisters are not able to go to their brother, due to pandemic, colleges and schools are closed. This brings young brothers and sisters together who usually don’t get holidays on Rakshabandhan when colleges run regularly. They must be together after a long time and enjoying the togetherness.

“As we grew up, my brothers acted like they didn’t care, but I always knew they looked out for me and were there!” – Catherine Pulsifer