Last year when the Fortune magazine announced that retailers in the US could expect a total sales over about US$ 719 billion or more during the holiday season, there were a number of people who came out, rather strongly against the commercialization of Christmas and the holidays. More and more people have started to rue the loss of ideals and family time and the increase in expenditure and gift exchange. If you are from India, you are likely to agree given the increasingly commercial turn our own festivals have started to take.
The Original Raksha Bandhan
If you’re at least a couple of decades old, you are likely to remember the buzz of excitement that would build up in July. The colourful street markets and Rakhi melas that would announce the arrival of the sacred Raksha Bandhan festival. Girls of all ages and women would go – often in large groups – pick out the beautiful handmade Rakhis, haggle over the prices, and come back with wide smiles on their faces. And then, there were the women who prided themselves in making their own Rakhis. Silken strings, tassles, beads, feathers, and what not would go into making these.
Then came the big day, usually in early August. Henna clad hands and boxes of sweets, festive meals put together – women would wait for their brothers to arrive. The simple act of tying the Rakhi on one’s brother’s wrist brought untold happiness. Those women whose brothers would life afar would have dispatched their Rakhis with tiny packets of rice and vermillion well ahead in time. Rakhi day would bring them cards and often money orders from their brothers. Look around today and you’ll clearly understand what we’re getting at.
It Started With “More”
It all started when “more expensive” started to be equated with “more love”. At first there was the newspaper advertisement for a special silver Rakhi, then a gold one, and finally, a diamond crusted one. The jewelers took out large ads and claimed that your love is as precious as the products you buy. With the e-commerce boom this seems to have become the mantra.
Rakhi Goes Online
At a time when we look forward to buying every one of our domestic and daily needs online, why should Rakhi be far behind? Welcome to the new age Rakhi that is celebrated on e-commerce sites. Gone are the days when Rakhis needed to be bought, packed, and sent. The online retailers are more than glad to send ready-made rakhi packs to your brothers. These often include a Rakhi, rice and vermilion packs, and some chocolates or cookies (perhaps even cakes). Add ons such as flowers, lumbas (for you bhabhi or niece) may also be available. Do not forget to customize all of these and to add a gift – a T-shirt or a pen or a gift mug or even a perfume. All packed in together delivered straight to your brother. All you need to do is click on your choice and pay online.
And if you’re a brother hunting for a suitable gift, gone are the days of guessing what your sister might actually like. E-commerce shopping vouchers are here to rescue you. Or perhaps your sister may prefer cash in her mobile wallet. All at your fingertips!
Convenience and ease and speed are the underlining watchwords. We must, however, pause to reflect on the sense of intimacy and affection that we have sacrificed at the altar of “e-rakhis”.
E-Commerce And You
India’s e-commerce market is likely to cross USD 120 billion by 2020 – more than the GDPs of many countries. We’re certainly not suggesting that you avoid online retailers this Rakhi. Portals like Amazon, Jabong, Ferns and Petals, and Giftmate can certainly be a blessing to those whose brothers live overseas. In such cases, sending thoughtful wishes, proper packaging and timely delivery of the Rakhi is a priority. Do make use of the abundant offers and discounts that e-commerce retailers offer this festive season. All we ask is to add your own thought, warmth, time, and effort into the festival of Rakha Bandhan. This will only add to the joy of the celebrations.
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