UAE: Indian expats find unique ways to connect with siblings for Raksha Bandhan festival

Some of them travel to home while others organise virtual celebrations



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by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 11 Aug 2022, 6:07 PM

Many Indian residents in the UAE celebrated the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan on Thursday, in their unique ways.

It is a festival dedicated to the special connection between a brother and a sister. While some travelled to India due to the school holidays, others celebrated it virtually. Many of them here did not a day off from work, but they will be celebrating it later in the evening with their extended family and even friends.

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Springs resident, Malvika Varma says, “My son’s cousin came in the morning to tie the rakhi (band) around my his wrist. This was followed by sweets and gifts. In the evening, some of my extended family will be visiting us. This year, I had customised special multi-coloured Gemstone rakhis for my brother who lives in Delhi, which was couriered earlier, and for my cousins who will be visiting me this evening. These rakhis are unique and the gems emit a special kind of energy that is intended to enhance the wellbeing of the individual wearing it. It's similar to a ring with an embedded stone,” she explains.

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Malvika adds, “I woke up early today and prepared a special meal with the help of my cook. We made puris, paneer makhani, mixed sabzi, meetha kaddu, among other dishes.”

Vyomika Agarwal who studies in Lancaster UK travelled the extra mile to make it for the special day… a day she refused to miss at any cost.

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“Living with my older cousin brother, I luckily had a wrist to tie a rakhi on ever since I was just a few months old. A few years later, my younger brother was born and the ritual of tying the rakhi every year continued. However, at the age of 18, I had to move out of home for higher education. But due to my upcoming exams, the 19-year-old ritual seemed to be in jeopardy. I fervently prayed to God for a way to get to my brother for Rakhi this year. That’s when the university suddenly announced that the final exams would be held online. I immediately rang my father and booked the earliest fight tickets to Raksha Bandhan so that I could surprise my brother on the special day. After all, Rakhi isn’t just a festival, it’s an emotion that keeps the brother-sister bond strong as ever,” says Vyomika.

Residents shed light on new Raksha Bandhan vows

Many explain with changing times the meaning of Raksha Bandhan has transformed to establish a more equitable society.

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Indian expat, Nalini Nandi, says, “My son is the only child, so my sister suggested that her daughter who is also an only child do a video call at 10.30am (UAE time). She had couriered the Rakhi earlier. I tied it around my son’s wrist on behalf of his cousin. My niece and my son really enjoyed the little puja that we did. I also offered my son chocolates (substituted for traditional sweets) as my sister wanted it to be. Though the entire celebration was virtual, it did feel very festive. Both my sister and I feel it’s important to make children understand the value of our traditions and culture, no matter where we live.”

She adds, “Additionally, we as a family feel over the years that Raksha Bandhan vows have altered. It’s not just the brother vowing to protect the sister, but it is the sister protecting and caring for the brother as well. So, when we talk about modernisation it’s not just the Bluetooth rakhis which have become hugely popular, but mindsets are also shifting, and people are becoming more progressive in their outlook.”

Dubai-based mum, Madhulika Chatterjee was happy to see her entire family get together on the occasion.

She says, “We had a small celebration, as my son is here from the UK this year. So, the siblings could celebrate the festival together. We did a small ceremony at home where my daughter tied the rakhi around her brother’s wrist. In the evening we plan to go out for a family dinner. For me, my brother and cousins are in India. So, I sent my Rakhi in July so that it reaches them on time. I also tie a Rakhi to Lord Ganesha that is installed in my home temple.”


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