By Nihal Parashar
India is celebrating Raksha Bandhan today, a festival that forms an integral part of the culture of India, which we always boast about. Raksha Bandhan or the ‘Tie of Protection’ is thread of love and affection which sisters tie on the hand of brothers, asking to protect her always.
My sister has always tied a thread on my hand since we were kids. That time I never understood the meaning of protection. While growing up, I thought it means to take a position of a “savior” for my sister. We did not live in a metropolis and life in our part of the world had different meanings for most of the words Indian culture boasts about. Protecting meant taking a patriarchal stand and not allowing sister to enjoy her life. Protecting meant she cannot talk to any other man. She cannot have “male-friends”. And yes, if any other male tries to befriend her, a bother was supposed to be the biggest villain in the process. I was glad to be disillusioned of this form of protection in the early years of my life.
But sadly, many sisters face this problem. I am sure all the sisters who were murdered by their own brothers in the name of honor, must have wished their “brothers” to be lesser protectors.
To make things clear, I am in love with the Indian culture, though I am not sure what Indian culture is, given the nation state was formed less than a century back. But then we like to simplify things! I know there is nothing called “Indian culture” but still I love the simplified version of it. I am in love with the energy this culture has. But let me take a stand and place myself away from all the jingoism, which few people, who certainly have a conservative understanding of everything, have created.
I do feel the word “protecting” must be done away with. There is no need to protect anyone. You just need to stand by people in their struggle. The idea of Raksha Bandhan is age old. Things have evolved, and we also need to move ahead with time. It is the era when we are fighting for women empowerment in every field. Women do not need protection from men. They are capable of those themselves. I believe this is what the first step needs to be. We simply need to stand by our sister in their struggle, just like they stand by us in our struggle. We all are supermen and superwomen. Do we need to prove this every day? I guess not. The kind of suffocation our society creates, I am sure sisters only want to be free. Why not let them do what they want to, just like they have always allowed us to do what we wanted to.
Brothers, we need to be less than the ideal “brother”. How about being friends with your sisters?
Happy Raksha Bandhan.
About the Author
Nihal Parashar is an Actor, Writer and a Social Media consultant. He has studied Literature, Journalism, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building. He is currently working with Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), taking care of various Communication activities at the organization. He lives in New Delhi.