Last week Hindu communities in parts of Asia (predominantly India, Pakistan, Nepal) celebrated one of my favourite festivals, Rakhsha Bandhan, ‘the bond of protection’. This ancient ceremony observes the special relationship between siblings. Traditionally, the ritual involves a sister tying a rakhi (sacred thread) around her brother’s wrist as a symbol both of her love and of her brother’s commitment to protect her. The brother reciprocates by renewing his vow to protect his sister and by offering her a gift.

 

Ines tying a rakhi to her brother's wrist.

Ines tying a rakhi to her brother’s wrist.

 

Traditionally presents have included jewellery, clothes and soft toys but in India this year there were reports of brothers giving their sisters onions!  An essential ingredient in Indian cooking, the price of onions has rocketed recently owning to heavy monsoon rains destroying crops. Consequently, onions have become something of a luxury in many Indian kitchens this year.

As my children spend a large chunk of their time fighting each other I decided Rakhsha Bandhan was a ceremony to embrace. I didn’t think our 6 year old daughter would appreciate a kilo of onions in exchange for ‘jewellery’ though and so to avoid any bickering, we settled on a rakhi each.

 

Celebrating Rakhsha Bandhan, 'the bond of protection'

Celebrating Rakhsha Bandhan, ‘the bond of protection’

 

Coming from the UK, where Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are so actively, and perhaps overly, celebrated I am surprised that there isn’t a National Sibling Day. Or perhaps there is? Should there be one? Do we even care enough? I doubt it. After all, half the fun is in observing the tradition itself. In the case of my family, my mother would always get a bunch of daffodils on Mother’s Day and my dad would get a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. In this respect, I don’t think it would have hurt to pause once a year to consider my siblings as well. But as most traditions stem from childhood, it seems a little late in the day for us to exchange cards and such sentiments now. Not for my children though! And besides, I felt that Rakhsha Bandhan was a particularly fitting custom to adopt as they both spent their early childhood in India and, I expect, will always maintain strong ties with the country.

 

Childhood in India

Childhood in India

 

What about you? Do you or your children celebrate a Sibling Day of some form?

Is Rakhsha Bandhan a festival you would adopt in your family? And whilst you ponder these thoughts, I shall leave you with a few rakhi-inspired bands that I’ve spotted on my Delhi wanderings.

 

Friendship bands, Shades of India. INR 350 each.

Friendship bands, Shades of India. INR 350 each.

 

Rakhi, En Inde. From INR 900

Rakhi, En Inde. From INR 900

 

Rakhi, En Inde. From INR 900

Rakhi, En Inde. From INR 900

 

Festival bracelets, Second Floor Studio.

Festival bracelets, Second Floor Studio.

 

Barong & Barong bracelet. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 3040.

Barong & Barong bracelet. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 3040.

Diva Lien Bracelet. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 4360.

Diva Lien Bracelet. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 4360.

 

Rakhi. Available in Second Floor Studio.

Rakhi. Available in Second Floor Studio.

 

Rakhi by Olivia Dar. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 1420.

Rakhi by Olivia Dar. Available in Second Floor Studio. INR 1420.

 

Bracelets by Olivia Dar. Available in Second Floor Studio. From INR 2250.

Bracelets by Olivia Dar. Available in Second Floor Studio. From INR 2250.

 

Traditional rakhis. Approx INR 20 each.

Traditional rakhis. Approx INR 20 each.

 

A basket of onions! Currently INR 50-80 per kilo.

A basket of onions! Currently INR 50-80 per kilo.