29 August 2007

rakshabandan hier


shikshantar rakshabandhan exhibition

speaking of the old world and indian family ties, yesterday was rakshabandan. rakshabandan, in my american-born confused understanding, is a holiday bringing together brothers and sisters to celebrate the duties that bind them.

women are supposed to tie a bracelet around the wrist of the men (senhor of bonfim style, leave it on until it falls off) and men are supposed to give cash money to the women. which represents taking care, one of the other, in this complementary and assymetrical way. part of the constant festival scene in indian culture, i think, has to do with making sure you remember to think about everyone in the extended family/society, giving everyone their due attention and rule.

so in rakshabandan its a chance to honor and respect all your female sisters and cousins, the women of your generation in a sense. and in the context of strained family situations, its an opportunity to cry, to let it out how shitty your situation is.

in my mom's family there's some estrangement between a brother and a sister, a situation that started years ago and has gotten steadily worse. and they can go on and ignore it and feel the pain digging deep but not really do anything, until rakshabandan. this year the brother didn't call the sister on rakshabandan, which is breaking a huge commandment of family and social relations. its this huge thing, without analogy in the secular disjoint of amerikan culture that was my birthright. so my mom spends hours on the phone with this crying sister and can finally feel her own anger and sadness as well.

and after years of talking to people and their families and the casual mentions of "we just dont talk anymore" it seems like a really beautiful ritual -- not the exchange of the money and bracelets, but rather the crying -- to be able to acknowledge how shitty it is that we have brothers and sisters we don't talk to anymore.

or in my sense of the family structure, that we have people in the world that we have loved to whom we no longer speak or otherwise communicate. it seems that it is only through the awareness of these tragedies -- the separation, the war, the loss of topsoil -- that we give ourselves the opportunity to transcend them. it is through this lens, only, that i can stomach the political situation, the rape and torture of humans and planet as an opportunity for all of us who claim to care really to do something, to motivate, to gain inspiration for our work and service to the planet and each other.

so, happy rakshbandan, brothers and sisters.


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