For the past three years, Shikshantar has hosted a special gathering for Rakshabandhan.
This annual festival celebrates the reciprocal love, care-taking, affection and protection between brothers and sisters (as well as among other family members, animals, trees, and even inanimate objects, like bicycles and farming tools).
We explore with friends and citizens in Udaipur how these important values manifest (or not) in our relationships today, and why they are essential for facing the crises before us.
We also examine how Rakshabandhan has been taken over by market forces, where expensive rakhis (the amulet which sisters tie on brothers) and costly gifts take priority over meaningful relationships. Rakshabandhan has also been co-opted by the State, as the nation-building agenda has emphasized a patriarchal narrative of the festival.
To restore the balance, we encourage people to make their own rakhis, cards and gifts (ideally, out of so-called 'waste' materials), and spend time together as siblings to strengthen their bonds and affection. We also expand the definition of Rakshabandhan to look at our other relationships, within our families, among our friends and neighbors, as well as with nature and the tools we use.
The following are images from this year's utsav (festival), "Pehlay Rakhi Banao, Fir Rakhi Manao" ("first make your rakhi, then celebrate rakshabandhan")