They lost their sister long ago
My husband was just three years old when he lost his older sister in a freak accident. What could have been worse for a mother than to lose her young child who was playing and laughing one minute and was no more the next. Though he was just three, my husband was impacted hugely and still remembers how it happened and the look on his mother’s face. He rarely talks about it, because the pain is way too much to express in words.
Rakshabandhan is a huge deal in northern and eastern India. Not just the gift and beautiful rakhi and the dresses, but the whole spirit of it… I never fully understood that feeling. We are just three sisters, no brother. We had cousins, but they all had their own sisters or a preferred cousin, so rakshabandhan wasn’t the same for us. It was just a ritual for us at most.
Rakshabandhan is important for my in-laws
But after my wedding, I saw how big a deal it was in my sasural. How everyone comes together virtually and physically to celebrate this day. A day made even more special as they celebrate Hindu tithi birthdays with great zeal. My husband and son both have their birthdays on the Rakshabandhan eve and so the season is as festive, happy and love filled as it can be.
On this day, each year I see an extra rakhi for both my husband and his brother. It is sent by the daughter of a family friend, a classmate of their late sister. This beautiful woman has been sending rakhis to both the brothers since their sister’s death. For over thirty years now. Every year. Without fail. Across continents. To us in Mumbai and to bhaiya in the UK. She doesn’t want anything in return and whatever we send is returned to my mother-in-law. Because she is doing this for her friend.
Yesterday we received the rakhi. A simple thread infused with blessings and love of two sisters, one beyond ties and one not bound by blood, a simple thread which makes us less of an island and more of family, a reminder that people will always stand by their promises, that friendship trumps everything… and for me and our family, this embodies the true essence of this auspicious day.