Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu holiday celebrating the relationship between a sister and her brothers and “cousin-brothers.” The custom is that a sister ties a rakhi, a holy thread, on the wrist of her brother. In return he offers her a gift (usually money but often clothing etc) and the promise of protection. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me. Unrelated or adoptive brothers can also receive the thread if they also promise to protect their adopted sister.
Rakhi shopping is incredibly fun and the selection is immense. My colleagues have assisted me in the hunt for the perfect specimen and I’ve bought them (rakhis not my colleagues…damn you ambiguous pronoun reference) in 4 different states of India. Although I prefer a simple rakhi thread, they have incredibly glitzy and ornate ones for the taking. And lest you think it’s a very solemn custom…keep in mind that they sell Spiderman rakhis and rakhis that feature cartoon versions of the gods eating McDonalds hamburgers and drinking Coke. My eyes nearly popped out of my skull when I saw that little gem and a little part of my public health self died inside.
So, to my amazing mountaineering brother Josh and all my cousin-brothers and adopted brothers- I have rakhis for you but they will have to wait until I get back. And nary a french fry will grace your rakhi threads, rest assured.
Note: there is apparently some confusion about the actual date of Rakhi- government offices, schools and my coworkers will celebrate it tomorrow but Google (and some other people) say it should be observed Wednesday. As usual, I have no clue but am happy to celebrate any day!