My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar
મારા વ્હાલા કોમલ, અંજલી અને અમર
I am a few weeks late in telling you about this festival, but I hope both you girls had remembered on or before the date, 18th August this year, to either send or tie the rakhdi on your brothers’ correct wrist! I remember I started tying it on Neshmama’s left wrist one year and Nayanamami was shocked! I could just imagine what her thoughts must have been…..this uncultured sister (nanand નણંદ) doesn’t even know what hand to tie the rakhdi on! So yes, it should be tied on the right wrist!
You have all grown up with this important Hindu ritual but do you know the significance of it? It is the celebration of the bond between siblings. Raksha translates to ‘protection’ and bandhan means ‘bond’. So by tying the rakhdi on the brother’s wrist, a sister hopes to protect her brother and convey her deep love and affection. In return the brother gives a gift (could be money) to the sister to reciprocate the same feelings. This part is sexist because previously only the brother would be earning money and be in possession of wealth that could be passed on to the non-earning sister. More than the exchange of rakhdis and money, the festival is a strengthening of the sibling bond. There are many mythical stories that reveal the deeper significances of ‘raksha bandhan’. To this end I would urge you to look up the following pairings, Rani Karnavati and Humayun, Alexander the Great and King Puru, King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Krishna and Draupadi. You might remember the last pairing from our times of watching the ‘Mahabharat’ episodes on television. Perhaps we could have a ‘Mahabharat’ binge-tv, the next time we are together.
Continuing with this theme, it is customary for a brother to gift part or whole of his first earnings to his sister(s). I just do not remember ever receiving the first salaries from my brothers, but there are many other gifts that I have received over the years. Their love and protection is the eternal gift I know is always there. There are two gestures that are stamped in my mind forever. Neshmama paid for all my driving instructor fees,…and he used to give me the bus fares when I travelled to Oxford Street for my Saturday job. Unfortunately Atishmama did not start earning until after I had got married. Perhaps Achalamasi could tell you of her sibling experiences. Atishmama and Achalamasi have had many adventures together! I would need to dedicate a whole letter to relate all the numerous other rakshabandhan gifts I have received(complements to both my bhabhis!). I have also compiled a playlist of some ‘rakshabandhan’ songs that adds a sparkle to this festival. Some of the songs are my evergreen favourites.
The other person I must mention here is my Navinmama. A solitary brother to seven sisters and that too younger to at least six of them! I am certain he was well pampered in his younger days by all the sisters. These days though, he upholds his brotherly status (together with Minamami) by always being present at all the happy or sad events of his sisters’ lives. All of his sisters and their families are always welcome to their home. All this when the sisters are settled in all corners of the world AND even when Mama was knee deep in running a hectic business.
Now let us see how well you know your brothers! Below I have inserted photos of 10 wrists. Could you tell me whose wrists they are? Of course all of them are not your brothers(cousins) and I will give you one clue, one wrist is of a very good friend of ours and unfamiliar to you. Hope Amar you too will enter my quiz! Any other takers? Answers below, please.
This half of the year is full of many other Hindu festivals…navratri, diwali, bestu varash, etc. Hope you are involved in one of them. My favourite is of course navratri. Do you remember how I used to drag you to the nearest venues during navratri when we lived in London? I would love it if you could revive some of those memories.
Anyway, until my next letter,
With all my love, hugs and kisses,