It’s Raksha Bandhan today — the much awaited annual festival that celebrates the love and affection between siblings, especially brothers and sisters. Though the exact origin of Raksha Bandhan is unknown, mythology and history are riddled with stories and narratives regarding the sacred thread, each famous in its own right. With shops selling glittering rakhis and displaying a variety of gift items, restaurants showering discounts, governments offering sops, and loudspeakers playing Raksha Bandhan songs, the country is beaming with the festive fervour. Amid all the festivities, however, there is a section of people who are not half as excited about the occasion. And they have their reasons! This specific group of people is a community in itself but nobody spares a thought for them on this day. These are the single children, or siblings of the same gender.

Single children often feel left out when it comes to observing this celebration of brother-sister bond. Yatin Sachdeva, a college-going Delhiite, says, “As a single child with no siblings or cousins, I felt ruled out, not to mention sidelined. There were no, and still are no, celebrations on this ‘decidedly-exclusive festival’. Raksha Bandhan, for me at least, became a day which had to be ‘tolerated’, much less ‘celebrated’.”

For single child Sakshi Agarwal, an English honours student, Rakhi means sharing of love, not essentially with brother. “Raksha Bandhan for me has little to do with brother-sister love and more with the idea of affection and gratitude for the people around me. Growing up, I’ve tied rakhies to my relatives, friends, teachers and domestic servants,” she says.

This indifference towards the festival is also shared by siblings of the same gender.

READ | Some stories of Rakhi from history and mythology

Maria Ben, a student of Economics, feels Rakhi is “overrated, not to mention over-hyped”. She adds, “People, frankly speaking, end up patronising the love between a brother and a sister when in reality it is no different than how two siblings, irrespective of their gender, love each other. The loving relationship between two sisters and two brothers then becomes something that is taken for granted, in terms of festivities at least.”

Two brothers, or two sisters feel equally warded off on this particular day, which celebrates the trust and affection between a brother and a sister. However, as the years have gone by, tradition — or rather convention — has frequently found itself being subjected to mutation, owing to modernisation. These alterations have resulted in a cultural change.

People have modified the festival as per their needs and convenience. Many people tie Rakhi to their siblings, not necessarily a brother for that matter, friends, parents, relatives and even trees for that matter. The idea is to tie a Rakhi to someone, or some thing even, with whom one shares a special bond of love, trust and affection. This is to say that the significance of the festival is not realised by the exact enunciation of the tradition of Raksha Bandhan but in reality, lies in the genuine expression of love.