Today was Raksha Bandhan day, and it struck me that this ritual, supposed to be performed in the morning, is, more and more (at least by people around my age), being performed in the evening, the reason being that people have jobs. It’s rather depressing how many people have jobs these days.

I have no more than a passing interest in this festival, and, in our house, the ritual generally concludes with me passing on to my sister whatever my mother has bought for her as a gift. I have made a promise to my sister that when I start earning, I will buy her something personal and substantial, but she knows that day will be as far in the future as I can manage.

There is this concept around here of a rakhi-sister/brother (meaning, basically, spiritual sibling), which is that you tie a rakhi to someone not related to you, and this allows you two to conduct a platonic friendship. I figure this tradition came about as a matter of convenience back when ‘a man and a woman can’t be just friends’ was accepted wisdom.

We had a tradition of rakhis in our school, too, and one of my oldest friends became my rakhi-sister at the age of seven. And I remember that our primary school had this wonderfully gender-neutral tradition where you tied a rakhi to your bench-partner regardless of which sex either of you belonged to. It strikes me as pretty sensible (and generally fun), and it’s a bit sad that patriarchal ideas of gender prevent it from continuing.

Some of my female readers might remember tying rakhis to guys who made unwelcome advances towards them. This acted as a prevention measure, because “Dude, you don’t fall for your ‘sister’”. I would have thought this particular tradition would fall out of eminence once we got out of school, but, from what I hear, it is still prevalent in colleges. This week, I got about twelve forwards (all of them from guys) saying that, on this day, one should keep an eye out for any woman approaching you with any kind of thread in her hand, and prepare to run in the other direction. Male engineering students of my acquaintance seem to think this is funny, but I suppose that tells us more about them than about the joke.