The popular Hindu festival(Rakhi), also known as ‘Rakshanandhanam’, involves the ceremony where a sister ties a holy thread on the wrist of her brother symbolising their eternal bond. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has turned every festival and its celebrations into a distant dream. We find out about how young adults are celebrating the Rakhi fiesta amidst this deadly pandemic.
Back in the day, in a typical Indian household, celebrating Rakhi was all about the warmth of siblings, the joy of the extended family re-uniting post a yearlong gap, gifts, long sessions of gossips, and relishing mouth-watering dishes. Sadly, it is not the same this year. The Covid-19 outbreak has indeed transformed our lives, including the celebrations and the festivities that surround it. Rakhi is no exception.
Minal Palana, 28, Advocate, High Court, Calcutta, says that she is celebrating Raksha Bandhan in its truest form this year by not meeting anyone to protect one other in this pandemic. “Yes, this year’s Rakhi is not full of festivities and sweets but full of prayers, wishes and gratitude. From tying a dhaaga on our hands to resorting to Zoom calls wishes, it has been a simple yet special rakhi. Love and care surely grow in tough times.”
Sarbik, 26, Subject Matter Expert, who is otherwise always out-of-town during Rakhi got back home this year due to the lockdown. He said “Normally other years I am in a different city busy with work so Rakhi is just celebrated by wishing sisters and taking back their wishes on the phone. This year I’m back home because of the Covid-19 situation so I get to be around my sister and get a rakhi actually tied on my hand and also eat good home-made food. I feel grateful to be able to be at home around with my family on this special occasion. These are difficult times and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Celebrations in a joint family are always a treat to be a part of. With the absence of the humdrum and noise of the festival, how are they celebrating it? Disha Chandgothia, 24, PR Associate, says “I live in a joint family so Raksha Bandhan has always been a home affair for us. Since we all have quarantined together, there is no major restriction on how we celebrate Rakhi. However, there are some relatives who will not be able to join us this year. They will be missed for sure during the festivities but at the moment, it’s a small price to pay for the greater benefit of public health. There’s always next year.
Whereas some have emphasized the simplicity and positivity of virtual celebrations, a few also turned sour about their experiences this year.
“I have been always extremely happy being a single child because Joey might not just share his food but I don’t like sharing anything, from my cupboard to my room to my parents’ affection and attention. I began to understand the hype around Rakhi only after I shifted to BBSR to pursue my graduation. There’s where residing at a hostel, I found my brother. Well, to be precise, I chose my brother—whom I lovingly call Vivek da. We never could celebrate Rakhi together because we were never in the same city during this occasion. Finally, this year when we both were in Calcutta, COVID turned all our plans topsy-turvy.’ Raya Rudra, 26, Advocate, High Court.
Pondering on the gloominess that the virtual platform provides to festivities, Sayantan Bose, 27, Sales Engineer, says “This year all plans have been cancelled due to the pandemic so we planned on celebrating it virtually which only included ‘wishing’ each other online. It’s not fun but it’s the only alternative. It feels pretty boring without human interactions, food and the noise around the house. When everything turns virtual, the whole enthusiasm goes away. It’s not only boring but also sad.”