Raksha Bandhan is an Indian holiday celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains to show the love between brothers and sisters. This generally also extends to cousins and friends too, depending on a girls relationship with the boys/men in her life.
A string bracelet, or ‘rakhi’ is tied onto a brother’s wrist and they’re given sweets, by the sister to symbolise their love and peacefulness. In return for this, the brother will promise to protect their sister, and give them a gift of some sort, usually money.
But, as my LOVELY brothers (I count all my cousins as my brothers too) would say: “Why would I give you money for tying a bit of string on my wrist, that I can probably find at home for nothing?!”
Can you feel the love yet?
Growing up, Rakhi was never missed. Every year, we’d all drive over to Kent armed with bags of colourful string bracelets and boxes of chocolates and Indian sweets to see the boys. My mum’s parents and her brothers all live in Kent, so she and her sisters would always go back to see their brothers for the day, bringing their kids with them and it was genuinely so much fun (but it’s always a great time going to see them!) A lot of my first cousins are boys and older than me, so preparing for it was always a pain in the butt. I had to make sure I had enough rakhi’s and sweets for them, which wasn’t such a bad thing when I was little as my mum used to sort that for me.
But as I got older, the boys got fussier and more demanding with their rakhi’s. Parm, for example, always demands a pink one. Shaan went through a period where he hated the massive ones with tinsel and glitter. Raj & Kay have always been close to impossible to get hold of, and it’s literally now a case of rugby tackling them to the floor and quickly wrapping it round their wrists. Rajan’s the only normal one, and will gladly wear whatever you give him, providing it’s not too outrageously weird – why can’t the rest of them be so easy to please?
Where I can, I’ll always try and make an effort with this holiday. I’ll go out shopping for pretty rakhi’s that I know they won’t mind wearing. I’ll mix it up a bit and get them actual bracelets (I went Spain one year before the holiday and bought a load of those awesome woven bracelets) and one year I went a bit alternative and gave them coloured ‘shag-bands’ with the explicit instruction of “this better still be on your damn wrist next time I see you!”
I won’t buy a standard box of Celebrations, I’ll bake them cookies, or rocky road bars instead, and then package it all up nicely so it’s all cute and looks damn awesome. I’m not the only one, all of us girls do it for our brothers! The chocolately treats always taste amazing, so everyone’s happy! My cousin up in Glasgow always sends an envelope with Rakhi’s and sweets for the boys, and honestly it means so much for us all because we hardly see her, but always think of her! Another cousin once bought specially coloured thread to make her own bracelets, and colour coordinated them for each boy!
We make jokes every single year about Rakhi. The week leading up to it is usually packed full of me being extra nice to them and them complaining about being broke. This year, I chose to just dodge it all, and tweeted them this outrageous hint: “Rakhi’s on Sunday. Get your cheque books out, boys!”
Needless to say, it didn’t work.
I got a stream of abuse and excuses from them over Twitter. My favourite excuse came from Rajan and was simply “The way my bank account is set up, I can’t transfer money to you.”
Rakhi comes around once a year, and these boys are so tight they can’t even afford to put aside a fiver! Granted, there are a LOT of us girls, but still, they’re all employed! What’s the big deal?!
Boys, please, sort your sh*t out!!
I joke, I honestly don’t really care about the money. I love the holiday just because it’s an excuse for us all to get together, and some of my fondest memories are of all of us lot together! We talk about anything and everything, but at the same time we talk about nothing at all. I know my cousins are there for me no matter what, and they are some of my best friends. We don’t need Rakhi to know that we love each other, that we’re there for each other, that we will protect each other from everything but that somehow makes the whole day that much more special. I love that there’s a real, genuine holiday for us where we can celebrate our amazing relationship! The only ever time that happens is the rare occasion where we all get together to sit in the secret Nandos stuffing our faces with chicken (it’s only secret because the first time we decided to meet there, everyone got completely lost trying to find it.)
Boys, I know I make jokes about giving me dollar for string, but I don’t mind too much. Knowing that you’re always there to look after me, regardless of whether I give you a rakhi, means more to me than all the money in the world! I hope all your wishes come true, you’re blessed with a lifetime of happiness, and everything is good for you, and you eat rainbows and shit glitter!!
Or, something along those lines…
Just don’t expect any yummy chocolate treats this year! That stuff costs me money, and if I’m getting nothing back then I won’t break even and that’s just not good business, you feel me? You can have a sugar cube instead. They’re cheap.
And to all my brothers who I barely see, and therefore can’t send a physical rakhi to you – please know that I am thinking of you and wish you all the same (re-read the “shitting glitter” line) and I’m so sorry I don’t send you rakhi’s! But if I could, know that I will ALWAYS choose the big, fat tinsel ones…