Rakhri - A Symbol of Oppression against Women
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The Rakhri ritual is not a Sikh ritual. Its practice doesn’t fit in the Sikh philosophy.
Rakhi or Rakhri means protection. This is a custom among some Hindus. Accepting a Rakhri from a girl, sister or a cousin, means that the boy takes responsibility of protecting her if she happens to be into any trouble. As a token of his promise, he gives some money to the girl after she ties the Rakhri on his wrist. The ritual Rakhri assumes that a girl cannot protect herself. This gives second-rate status to the women. Hence, it is not an approved custom among the Sikhs.
According to historic tradition, the Rakhi or Rakhri was a magic thread tied by a Tantric Yogi, a holy person, or a fakir, to protect the wearer from evil happenings. Later, the Rakhri took the form of the present colorful bangle like thread with flowers and other decorations tied to it.
From a Sikh perspective, Rakhri is undoubtedly another expression of a patriarchal culture, however well intentioned. It is, after all, the brother who extends his protection to his sister, and the woman who agrees to place herself under the protection of her brother. She is devoid of power and must turn to a male for protection. While this is true in Hinduism, where the law giver Manu gives her a place next to animals, it is not the case in Sikhism. Guru Nanak, in his Asa Kee Var, raised the status of woman, making her equal to man long before Europe gave her the right to suffrage. Guru Amar Dass, the third Nanak, made her the head of entire congregations, giving her authority and power unknown even to the Occident at the time. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Nanak, gave her initiation of the Double-edged sword and made it mandatory for her to don a kirpan, an unlicensed arm asserting her sovereignty in a male-dominated world where the regime was willing to kill her for this defiant act.
How do we reconcile the celebration of a festival so antithetical to Sikhism by Sikhs? Five hundred years of work by the Sikh Gurus to give women their basic human rights is undercut through such demeaning rituals imbued in Brahminism. Does not the tenth Nanak declare, "When the Khalsa adopts Brahminical ways, it shall lose my trust", jab eh gahe bipran kee reet, mai na karoo in kee parteet?
Guru Nanak demands complete sovereignty through actions. There is no room for conformism and compromises. Sikh women worldwide should resolve to boycott festivals such as Rakhri that dilute the egalitarian message of Sikhism. What could be a better tribute that can be offered to our Ten Masters who fought to give women equal rights when the rest of the world turned a blind eye to oppression against them?
Sikh men consider every other female (except wife) irrespective of her religion as his sister, mother or daughter. Such is the dignity of the Sikhs. As a TRUE SIKH we are duty bound, no need for Rakhis! Will you not save a girl who did not tie you a Rakhi last year?
All Veers are requested to understand and give equal status to your Sister, and Sisters jio, please learn to accept equality with equanimity.
Veer ji, take your sister out to Mc Donald's, buy her something she wishes to, get her a pizza, anything. Use this opportunity to enhance family bonding - that is more important in life.

There is never a better time! 
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