After all these years, I got a rakhi. Not much pomp involved since it was couriered from my one-year-old cousin Samriddhi in Nagpur. One-and-half years old, actually, by now. Being from a Bengali family staying in Maharashtra she’ll probably grow up to be a polyglot – at the very least, she’ll now 1. English 2. Hindi. 3. Bengali. 4. Marathi 5. French (if she takes it up in school). I gifted her a teddy bear. (There’s and interesting story behind how these stuffed toys came to be known as ‘teddy bears’.)
I was reminded today of an anecdote from Derek O’Brien’s First Book of 1000 Questions. (Probably the only sensible quiz book he has written so far; sadly, also a book which is out of print.) In it, Derek O’Brien speaks on how he used to get jealous when his classmates turned up at school with multiple rakhis dotting their wrist; he wondered whether they actually had those many sisters or a few were being extra generous. To this day, the four O’Brien brothers haven’t got a rakhi and loving it. Well, I’m no longer in a similar predicament. Dang, there goes my freedom.
Nowadays of course a lot of rakhis are exchanged between people who aren’t blood relations. Doofenschmirtz Evil Incorporated Archies Inc, Cadbury’s and other assorted greedy marketing types are quite happy with this development. Exchanging rakhis beyond non-blood relations is basically a coded message from a girl to guy (who’s probably hitting on the girl, unsuccessfully) saying “Dude, you can talk to me, but anything more than that I’ll kick you squaw in the nuts.” (Thankfully, I never got one of those in school. :P )
The Beeb has a factfile on Raksha Bandhan. It informs that the protection offered by a rakhi is valid for one year. I’m sure enterprising Indian telco companies will work out a deal with some temple boards to offer lifetime validity offers. Hmm, what other nuggets does the Beeb have to tell us? Oh, yes – “Women tie rakhis around the wrists of the prime minister”. That’s new. Wikipedia tells us that Yama blesses immortality  on anyone who gets a rakhi. Son of a gun seems to have gone back on his promise. Also, there’s a link to a page on ‘scientific details of raksha bandhan‘. Do check it out. Hilarious shit, literally. I’m all for symbolism, but religion often tries to pull bunny rabbits out of a hat when it shouldn’t even try.
But hey, whatever be the ‘science’ behind all this, I look forward to meeting my little sister again some day. She’ll probably have learnt a few words for at least one of those languages by then. :)
PPS – I felt the need to make a ‘not Sawant’ clarification in post title because that bitch has been hogging too much airtime on news channels.