Rakhi Sting-Part 1

NOTE:If you do not know what Rakhi actually is, you can find it in one of my previous posts here or on the Madh-Mama Blog. I think she did a good job on her post on Rakhi. Also, if you are one of those people who cannot take any criticism of the west, sorry but this post is not for you.

Rakhi was this week, and I missed my brother like crazy. I want to write about brother and sister relationships, and its importance in Indian society.  I wanted to write this post because I came across a post on Rakhi on one of the blogs I read. I was really hurt. I want to keep the name of the blog anonymous because it is not my intention to portray any blog negatively. I understand that the author has a right to opinion, so I did not even make a controversial comment on the post. I believe “if you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.”  I also request that my readers, if you happen to read the blog I am talking about, please help me preserve the anonymity of the blog and the author. Please do not make a comment with the author or blog name. That said, because this is my blog, I think I have freedom to express how I feel. I will try not to be rude.

The reason this post made me sad is because it equates Rakhi to India being patriarchal society. The author goes on to say that Rakhi is a symbol of women being submissive and needing protection. The most painful thought of all is Rakhi gives a brother control over his sister. The author thinks it is insulting. That thought I agree with because if you look at it as a brother controlling his sister it is definitely insulting. Thank God it is not true, and our brothers are not controlling. If anything, they are very loving.  The author also thinks that the bling on the Rakhi is a way to embarrass the brother. I am sorry to break the bubble of the author, but Indian brothers do not consider blinged Rakhi’s embarrassing. They see them as a symbol of their sisters love and affection. Some of them are even happy to have their entire forearm filled with Rakhi’s.  My brother and his friends used to compete with each other “who gets most Rakhi’s?” What amazes me most is the height of hypocrisy because after saying all this, the author pushes all the objections aside and celebrates Rakhi. I guess to the author it is just a thread or another experience to have. Rakhi is not about a thread. It is about the bond between  brother and sister. It is easier to bond with your same sex sibling than the opposite sex sibling. Two brothers or two sisters would not tie Rakhi. Therefore, having a brother-sister relationship is special.

That post made me realize maybe it is true that some western people will never understand Indian culture. I say some because I know a few westerners who have a good understanding and respect for Indian culture. Then again, I am not sure if this understanding is superficial or deep. I have decided to give them the benefit of doubt and not generalize because generalizations can be inaccurate and hurtful.

Rakhi is not only a symbol of a brother protecting his sister, but it’s also a symbol of a sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well- being.  Rakhi is also important because, in olden days when there were no communication devices, Rakhi was an occasion when a brother visited his sister, who now lives at her husband’s house. The brother becomes a proxy parent for a girl if their parents are old or dead. He has the responsibility to take care of her needs all his life. Believe me when I say this, no brother ever thinks of this responsibility as a burden. I do not think that this is the brother controlling his sister. They cherish having a sister as much as we cherish having a brother. Yes, it is true that some brothers are over protective, but that is just nature’s way. Men are always protective of their female relatives. The psyche of men is quite different from women.

Indian culture sees brother and sister relationship as one of the sweetest of all.  This is how sisters are treated in India (and no it is not an exaggeration of Indian movies):

We love our brothers, and they love us. The relationship I share with my brother is unique. We play, fight, laugh, and cry together. We stand as one against my parents. If one of us wants something from our parents, the other takes their case to them. I cannot imagine what I would have done without my brother. My brother is 5 years younger than me. He came to USA 2 years after me, but because he is an engineer, he was able to get a job sooner than me. He has been supporting me financially since then. He is not doing this because it is his duty or he is being controlling. He is doing this because he loves me and cannot see me suffer. As I said before, he is younger than me, it makes me sad to be dependent on him. I am the one who should be supporting him so, I am very blessed to have him. I am lucky to have been born in a culture where I have family support. I am happy I do not have to deal with all the problems by myself.

We see and read news about that female feticide and ill treatment of the girl child in India. What the media does not tell you are the stories where the daughter(s) of the family are treated as a princess.

I personally am treated like a princess by my parents and brother. Does that mean I get what ever I want? No. Does that mean I can get away not doing the stuff I should do? No. My mother has two explanations for these two questions. For the first she saysit is not right to give candy to a child when ever she asks for it. For the second she says we cannot allow the child not  get a vaccine (a shot/injection) just because she is going to cry. Therefore, her analysis is she is loves me so much that she does not give me a lot of candy and gets me vaccinated. I agree privately, but never openly before her.

It is just sad how we find fault with the practice of female feticide and Rakhi at the same time.  If you kill the female child it is wrong, and also if you are protective of her that is also wrong.The day a girl is born, she becomes the life of not only her parents but also her brother(s). My mom told me several times that since the day I was born her goal was to save enough money for my grand wedding. That is one reason why it is so difficult for her to accept my relationship with “D”. (I do not want to listen to the feminist crap about why my mother is planning for my wedding and not my career. I am not going to listen to anyone who finds faults with mothers’ love.) Media concentrates on the news that can be sensationalized. Just like the media portrays “westerners= divorce” is not 100% right, this is also not right.  If there are “X” number of female feticides, there 10,000 times more parents that are happy they had a baby girl. No, we are not all being crushed in India by patriarchal society. No, we are not all being stripped of our rights. We just live in a society with different cultural norms. I am posting some videos for your entertainment [sarcasm]as always:

I hope you are out of your shock by now.  By the way, there are more videos (a total of 8 sting operations in different cities of USA) where these came from, just for your entertainment purposes, [still being sarcastic]. If you want to watch more, you can find it on their website here. Arizona, is one of the four states in USA that has strict laws against Gendercide. Two of the eight sting operations are from Phoenix and Tuscan, two big cities of Arizona state. So, much for Americans being law abiding citizens.   Yes, those are videos of a gendercide sting operation in America and not in India. More importantly not small town America.What amazes me the most is these sting operations expose the practices of Planned Parenthood. Yep, the same Planned Parenthood that is funded by the United States government, the most powerful and uncorrupt (at least on book,) government in the world.  Now that is called a SCANDAL. Indian government at least condemns these practices. The incidences in India are because of individual beliefs and illiteracy. Is that the case in America? If this is happening in America, do you think there is any country on our planet that is without this sin? Then why go on and on about Indian patriarchal society as a basis for gendercide? I know some might say it is more rampant in India. I have a question for you. Is one murder less of a sin than two murders? The 6th Commandment (in the Bible) says “Thou shall not kill”. It does not say “Thou shall not kill more than X number of people”. If you are Atheist then this is for you : It does not matter if its one or ten murders, a crime is a crime, and that is punishable by law. Just to clarify, I am not trying to justify or condone female feticide in India by saying it happens everywhere. My only point is it is not fair to blame Indian culture for everything and anything.

-find Rakhi sting part-2 here. Please do feel free to comment down below and share your thoughts. I also appreciate any criticism you have.

You might also be interested in:

Every coin has a flip side- Part 1 find it here

Every coin has a flip side- Part 2 find it here

Every coin has a flip side- Part 3 find it here

Athidhi Devobhava find it here

67 years of Independence find it here

-R

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15 Comments

  1. Kamal.kar476

     /  August 26, 2013

    Rakhi does not mean protection all the time, but it is a reminder of the bond of love existing between two siblings. if brother is much younger than sister, what type of protection can the sister expect from brother ? I have seen the opposite happening where an elder sister rescues younger brother from problems. But brother even if younger, does promise support to sister whenever she needs in future.
    In many parts of India, sisters do not get a share of ancestral property though legally they are entitled to it. Yet it is unwritten rule that after sister’s marriage, the brothers have to treat her and her children protectively. A “Bhanja’, the nephew or niece, is equal to one hundred Brahmins. So the custom says. Therefore any help given to sister’s children is regarded as pious.

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 26, 2013

      You are totally right about that. My brother is five years younger than me. He was the baby of the family. When ever we visited my relatives house, I cared for him. He was totally dependent on me, it was almost like I was the mom. I was very happy to take care of my little brother.(he was so darn cute). When some one gave me a candy in the school, I saved it for my brother. Later when he got old enough to go out and get groceries, he used to get me flowers with is candy money. Then he grew up to be this giant person and now he is even supporting me financially. I would have done the same if I had a job and he was struggling. Brothers and sisters each do what they do best and it is not the matter of who is superior to who. I think Rakhi proves that.

      Thanks for telling me about the “Bhanja” thing. I did not know that.

      Reply
  2. “It is just sad how we find fault with the practice of female feticide and Rakhi at the same time. If you kill the female child it is wrong, ”
    “If there are “X” number of female feticides, there 10,000 times more parents that are happy they had a baby girl.”
    I am actually flabbergasted that anyone would write such sentences. Leave aside girl children for the moment. Lets think that a murder happened in your neighborhood, a young healthy man. How about going to his house and telling his parents, ‘What if one young man was murdered? There are millions of young men who are happily living!”
    Unbelievable!

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 26, 2013

      Thank you for the comment.
      I think there is a misunderstanding here. Let me clarify so you can see what I meant. First of all this is the complete quote:
      “It is just sad how we find fault with the practice of female feticide and Rakhi at the same time. If you kill the female child it is wrong, and also if you are protective of her that is also wrong.”
      I was trying to say that female feticide aims at killing a girl child and it is wrong. Rakhi aims at protecting/taking care of your sister (girl) and people are finding faults with that too. For example let me quote a hypothetical example- You are being assaulted by someone (gender neutral) and some passerby (gender neutral) saves you. Who do you consider to be the good one and who do you consider to be the bad one? Do you consider both good or both bad? Would you tell the someone who just helped you that it was none of their business? My personal opinion is female feticide is bad and Rakhi is good. You might have a different opinion and I respectfully agree to disagree.

      This is the full context of the second quote:
      “Media concentrates on the news that can be sensationalized. Just like the media portrays “westerners= divorce” is not 100% right, this is also not right. If there are “X” number of female feticides, there 10,000 times more parents that are happy they had a baby girl. No, we are not all being crushed in India by patriarchal society. No, we are not all being stripped of our rights. We just live in a society with different cultural norms.”

      As it is clear now I am trying to say that what we see in the media is not the true picture. Media concentrates on sensationalizing because that is how they make money. Do you think that there are more female children killed then alive? I was saying if there are “X” number of cruel parents there are 10,000 times more parents that are on the ninth cloud. I do not know how you get the impression that I condone murder from that, but that is not my intention. I would never say to any mourning parent “What if your young man was murdered? There are millions of young men who are happily living!”
      I have no idea how you came to that conclusion.
      I value life. I like to see the good in the society not because I am naive or I do not know bad exist. World is not 100% perfect and it will never be. Good and bad always fight to gain control of the world. In this fight I want to cheer for good. That is what I am doing. Spreading the message of good, there are lot of places you can find the message of bad just not on my blog. I feel the bad news brings with it disappointment, depression and sucks the life out of us.
      I want to show my readers that good still exist in this world and humanity still has a fighting chance. This is no shape or form means that I am ignoring bad.
      After all that is who we are fighting against and it is always wise to know your enemy. Just like when there is a violent crime, media tends to go on and on about the perpetrator. This creates a mini celebratory status, that encourages other bad people to do the same. That is why I want to minimize the bad news and spread the good along with showing support to the victims.

      Everyday thousands (it is not the right number) of people are becoming the victims of violent crime around the world. My heart goes for them. The incident that brought the biggest change in my life is Boston bombing. I know there were much worse incidents than that, but that was the incident when I first paid attention to the news. Muslims and Christians are the two biggest religions in this world. Both believe in Jesus. The only difference is Christians believe that Jesus has already come and is resurrected and Muslims believe Jesus is going to come at the end. I see it as a minute difference not worth killing your neighbors. For a terrorist it is a reason good enough to take millions (again not the right number) of life’s.

      Boston bombing and the event that followed have made me vow to spread the message of peace, love, prosperity, non-violence, acceptance, and uniting the world. That is the reason I made the blog. I know some may say that sounds too idealistic or it is not possible. Yes, it is idealistic and I know it is not going to be easy, but how can we say it is impossible unless we try? I am not expecting for an over night miracle. I will be happy if I can pass this message to at least 10-15 people around the world.

      Thank you again for your input.

      Reply
  3. ” Believe me when I say this, no brother ever thinks of this responsibility as a burden,”
    One generalization. More such generalizations and absolute statements in this post 🙂
    Loving Rakhi and what it symbolizes is one thing. Everyone is free to do what they like. But saying ‘NO brother ever thinks of sisters as burden’ is downright false 🙂 Your statement just shows you haven’t met any so far. Be thankful you have been lucky, but instead of denying their existence, spare a kind thought for the not-so-lucky sisters too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 26, 2013

      Thank you for your comment.
      You are right about me not meeting brothers who see their sister as a burden. Thankfully by God’s grace I was blessed with brothers who are gems. I am sorry I got lost in my own little world and did not paint broader picture. My intention was not to offend anyone’s feelings. That said I am not oblivious to the fact that there are few bad apples. I see it this way, when we buy a basket of apples there will be a few bad apples. We enjoy the remaining and say they are tasty. We tend to forget about the bad ones after we ate the good ones. We might even go back to the same store to get more. It is only a problem when the whole basket is filled with bad ones. I think that is it not the case yet. Therefore there are bad brothers just like there are bad mothers, bad fathers, bad sisters and bad everyone. Bad always co-exist with good in our society. I believe in giving people benefit of doubt and innocent until proven guilty. Thank God our society has not yet overtaken by bad people. I believe it is my duty to spread the message of good and positivity. In doing so, I might have made a factually incorrect statement and for that I apologize. Thank you again for bringing it to my attention. I am not going to make a correction, because I want my future readers who see the discussion understand what we are talking about.

      Reply
  4. Hi I tried to comment several times yesterday but for some reason all my comments weren’t going thru on all different sites. just wanted to know if it went through?

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 25, 2013

      I am sorry for some reason they were in my spam folder. I have no idea what went wrong. Hopefully this is fixed. I will check my spam folder periodically so this does not happen again.

      Reply
  5. I tried to comment on this by my computer is acting weird…lol, hope this one goes through.
    I really love the Rakhi festival – the love that is given between brother and sister is equal, and very tender. I think it is commendable trait of a man to want to protect his sisters and good for his masculinity too.
    I don’t think Rakhi is patriarchal because the love that is shown is equal between siblings. I only know this because I saw it in person.
    I think you should keep writing to create awareness about how in your family, girls are prized. Nobody hears that kind of thing and it’s nice to hear 🙂

    Reply
  6. I’m a fan of a few Indian feminist groups on facebook, and when Rakhi time came around, many said to ban Rakhi because it means a women is yet again inferior to man, sister inferior to brother, etc. Celebrating Rakhi in India with my husband and his 5 little sisters, it is not like that, especially in our family. It is a very tender-hearted festival and I think I appreciated moreso because I am an only child. Yes, the sister takes the blessings of the brother, but he also gives her gifts in return. What I noticed is that it’s a more equal affection of love between the brother and sister, and also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a brother protecting his sister. Not controlling of course, but protecting I think is a good thing. Protecting your family from danger and creating a safe place for the family, and being confident in defending them – I think is a positive thing for a man’s masculinity.
    I agree that it is true that it is not shown that Indian females are prized as well. Maybe it is not openly shown..? Keep writing about it though, it creates awareness.
    I didn’t know about the sex-selection in the US, very shocking! Crazy how people will mess with nature like that.

    Reply
    • Raina

       /  August 25, 2013

      I am all for the women power,freedom and all that good stuff. I just do not agree with the groups that say we should put men down to feel all powerful. I feel if I am confident about who I am, no one can treat me like I am inferior to them. Let me give an example here: Chatrapathi Shivaji was one of the greatest kings in Indian history. He fought against the Mughal emperor, who at the time was ruling most of India. Shivaji’s mother Jijiya Bhai was a driving force in his life. They say that she told him stories of brave men since he was a baby. These stories inspired him to be a brave warrior. The moral of the story is no doubt Shivaji is a great emperor, but who made Shivaji? Jijiya Bhai (mother). That answer I consider is the power of women. When we say, what women have been doing for centuries is inferior to men and reverse our roles, I think we are disregarding the hard work of all the women before us. It is like we ourselves are saying that some one else is superior to us. We have been, are and will be most powerful, because we have the future of human race (our Kids) in our hands, we just need to realize. (That is a dialogue worthy of a Sci-fi show). lol. I feel this is like Indian inferiority complex. As long as Indians keep thinking that white skin (not being racist) is superior, we will keep feeling that we are inferior. I think the power lies with in us and we alone are responsible for harnessing it and no external change will help.

      About sister taking blessing, it is not always sister who takes blessing and touches brother’s feet. It all depends on who is older. Like in our house I am older than my brother. Therefore every year I make a point that he touches my feet and I give him a blessing. He kind of tries to escape, but I do not let him. Funny thing is my brother never touched my parents feet till now, but once a year he definitely touches mine. lol. Just like everything in India this is also based on age and respecting elders principle.

      My brother did not want to talk to “D” for the last 2.5 years because he was worried that “D” may break my heart. He always said “Akka (sister) I cannot see you cry, so I do not want to trust my judgement. I have confidence in mom and what ever she decides I will go with.” It hurt me a lot that e would not talk with D, but then it is not because of some selfish motive. He just cannot have his sister hurt.

      Reply
  1. What do I stand for? | Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (VK)
  2. “Let the 21st century be a century of tolerance and dialogue” | Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
  3. 67 years of Independence | Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
  4. Rakhi Sting-Part 2 | Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

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