Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rite of Passage – India

Rakshabandahan- Brother Sister Rite of Passage- India

According to Sudharam this festival involves an oath between a brother and a sister. During this celebration the whole family gathers together at the house. The sister ties a red thread to the wrist of the brother asking her brother to protect her in times of trouble and watch out for her. After that the brother gives her a gift or some money and then the sister put a sweet into the mouth of her brother. The forehead of the brother is also decorated with a dot of red paint and several grains of rice. This festival happens in September and again is based on the lunar calendar.

Sudharam participated in this celebration many years as a child and said that he felt extremely close to his sister because of this. He still has saved all the red strings from each of the ceremonies and even now that he has moved to the United States her sister still sends a red string to him every year. Sudharam spoke with a lot of emotion about this festival, clearly showing that he cares greatly about his sister.

I feel this is a very intimate celebration that represents the emphasis on family in this culture. I can relate very strongly to this ritual because I too feel very close to my sister. Although my family does not have a formal celebration of this closeness but many times in my childhood I have confirmed to my sister that I will watch over her. This ritual reflects the true love and bond between a brother and sister. In general this ritual serves to bring the family close together.

This ceremony also speaks to the concept of gender roles in society. The brother being the male automatically assumes the role of protector. The girl being weaker and less aggressive needs the protection of the older brother. This idea is displayed unequivocally in that ceremony but also holds true in the United States, just without the ceremony attached to it. I have always been told by my parents to watch our for my younger sister, and indeed I do feel inclined to protect her.

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