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Updated: August 20, 2013 17:21 IST

The thread of warmth

NEETI SARKAR
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The colour of life Discourses on gender equality, and personal space doesn’t alter the love between a brother and sister. Photo: Paul Noronha
The Hindu
The colour of life Discourses on gender equality, and personal space doesn’t alter the love between a brother and sister. Photo: Paul Noronha

Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the brother-sister bond. At some point in life it grows beyond the brother protecting sister equation, but the affection is forever, finds Neeti Sarkar

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero”, Marc Brown, American author and illustrator, once said. And today being Raksha Bandhan, this is precisely what we’re celebrating!

In these changing times, one tradition in India that has not gone out of fashion is the celebration of Raksha Bandhan, the day brothers set aside to let their sisters know that they will protect them and when sisters pray fervently for the longevity of their brothers.

But does this protection and praying go beyond today? In an age where women are fighting for their rights and detest being referred to as the ‘weaker sex’, do sisters resent their brothers’ protection?

“I used to be a lot more protective about my sister when we were younger and I wouldn’t let boys in her class get away with bullying her or even her friends! But now that we’re so much older, I understand that she can protect herself and only if she needs me, she asks me to intervene and I’m fine with that. I will always be her protector but more than that I have come to respect her personal space as well as her desire to be independent. This works well for us both,” says Joydeep Ghosh, an engineer.

His sister Madhu says: “I love the fact that I have an elder brother to protect me but now that I’m 25 and can take care of myself, I don’t particularly need physical protection. My brother is more my emotional anchor now.”

Collegian Smriti Singhania says: “I’ve always been a tomboy so I’ve never liked the idea of my elder brother ‘protecting’ me. When we were younger, I would beat his friends up when they got into a fight with him. So despite religiously observing Raksha Bandhan each year, even if my brother thinks he needs to protect me, I don’t allow him to, simply because I’m strong and nobody dares to mess with me.”

While there are those who can do without being protected by their brothers, according to Dilip Jain, a businessman, “Sisters might pretend like they don’t like or need that protection. Brothers on the other hand act like toughies and might not show that they care enough for their sisters to beat up a battalion of rowdies who are annoying her. It’s really funny how they try being stronger (emotionally too) than they are and we try hiding the softie in us.”

Counsellor Shruti Ahluwalia opines: “Women are a lot stronger than they used to be and they don’t like being stereotyped. Gone are the days when they felt they needed to be protected by their brothers or even husbands for that matter, but I notice in two cases largely where women wish for that protection — a girl who doesn’t have a brother invariably wishes she had one especially when she needs someone to protect her. And now, given that the world we live in is only getting more unsafe for women, there are a whole lot of women who are happy to have brothers to protect them.”

So irrespective of whether we need them to protect us, today may be a good day to acknowledge the fact that we have fortresses in the form of siblings and that being there for each other is what really seals the bond.

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