It was Rakhi on August 13, 2011. It is a solemn festival dedicated to love and regard among brothers and sisters and all round harmony in the society.
We observed the festival of Rakhi with gusto and spirit in my younger days back home in Jalandhar. I moved to Delhi in the pursuit of my career in the Indian Foreign Service in early 1970. My sister Kamla also came to Delhi in 1973 to take up a job and later married to Kumar in 1977 and settled in Delhi itself. Till then the Rakhi festival was celebrated in the family as usual. My other sisters in Jalandhar sent the Rakhis through post occasionally. I started moving abroad in the process of my diplomatic assignments in 1977. The intensity and the spirit of Rakhi diminished over the years. The social norms, I think, also underwent change in view of the growing commercialization and economic considerations. On my side, I also did not have a ritualistic orientation. My other sisters, in the meanwhile, also got married and settled in life. The Rakhi was pushed to the back seat. We all got bogged down. We were engaged to the nitty gritty of life, in the process of earning our bread and butter and taking care of our families. The festival of Rakhi got confined to telephonic or electronic greetings, unconsciously or otherwise... Perhaps, it is the fact of life. We all got busy in our way.
I came back to India on retirement in January, 2011 after a long career during which we remained outside the country most of the years. The first Rakhi fell on August 13. My brothers politely, directly or indirectly, tended to sound me that it would be in order if we pay some attention to these social requirements and take the initiative to start and imbibe the spirit of Rakhi. It was good of them to help us in integrating ourselves with the family after our return to India. I with my wife Vidya, frankly, did not have any specific views, different from the routine, on all these matters. So far so good.
We are staying in our small flat in Gurgaon. We expected that Kamla, who lives in Delhi, would come and visit us on the Rakhi. Still just to ensure and take the initiative to revive the spirit of Rakhi, we spoke to her and invited her to come on the auspicious occasion. She said obviously she was planning to come. It made us happy. Accordingly, Kamla and Kumar came in the morning itself to avoid the usual rush and traffic jams. It was a great revival of the fine tradition of Rakhi in my family. My daughter Vaishali along with her husband JP also came, after synchronizing with Kamla Bhua, to tie Rakhi to her brother Rupesh and Sulekha, with whom we live. It was a good family get-together. We felt good. The spirit of Rakhi prevailed. I sent Rakhi greetings through e-mail to my other three sisters with the hope that the spirit of love and regard for each other will remain and prevail. Here lies the crux of happiness. I found with a sense of satisfaction that this wonderful festival of Rakhi is celebrated and rightly so with good spirit and gaiety throughout the country. Let me quote a poet to convey the spirit of Rakhi.
jaati dharm nahi vyavdhaan,
jaisi dharati khula aasmaan,
dhoop-chandani sa barse pyaar,
aaya rakhi ka tyohaar.