It’s that time of the year again – when the shops are filled with colorful threads and our television commercials are full of brand vying to be the ‘best gift for a sister’. Yes, it’s the time for Raksha Bandhan.
Raksha Bandhan is the possibly the only festival that specially celebrates the relationship between a brother and sister. With its roots found in the epic Mahabharata, the Hindu festival is observed all over India in the month of August.
The idea of Raksha Bandhan is simple and thoughtful – a brother vowing to protect (Raksha) his sister as she ties a Rakhi (sacred thread) around his wrist. In fact, if there’s one thing that the Sooraj Bharjatiya-Ekta Kapoor school of fiction has thought us about the bhai-behen relationship, it’s the fact that ‘raksha’ is the main aim of the ‘bandhan’
However, thanks to years of systematic advertising, gifts have become the new symbol of ‘protection’. When you tie a rakhi, you expect your brother to give you a tangible gift, not just a solemn vow, an idea reinforced by all the ads of chocolates and phones and life insurance.
But as times are changing, so is the advertising industry and its audience. Today, we are seeing more than the tried-and-tested, traditionally-dressed pair of siblings doing the typical ‘You tie me Rakhi, I give you so-and-so product as gift’ commercials. Indian advertisers are looking at newer ways to connect with the younger generation by showing the brother-sister bond in new light which is reflective of the modern dynamic.
There are ads which actually turn the paradigm of protection on its head from and focus on ‘raksha’ more than ‘gift’. Here are some of the most meaningful and modern Raksha Bandhan television ads we have see in the recent past that gives the traditional protector-protected paradigm an innovative twist.
Cadbury Celebrations – 2015
The latest ad from the brand that has almost become an official ‘Raksha Bandhan’ gift for sisters all over India, actually shifts the focus to ‘Raksha’ and not just the gift. The ad shows a sister clearly telling her brother that she doesn’t need his protection, a direct contradiction to the traditional ads from the same company. When asked why she still ties a rakhi, she says that it’s because he gets her Cadbury every year, the ad ends with the girl refusing to share her chocolates quipping that she is capable of protecting her chocolates as well.
Future Generali Insurance
This is another fresh take on the protector-protected paradigm, one with a subtle gender-equality message. The younger brother says that his gift for his sister is only the promise to protect her. To which the older sister remind him that is she who has protected him all these years The brother agrees saying that it is she who deserves the rakhi more than him. The ad is very endearing and actually shows a brother tying a rakhi to his sister and gives out strong message that should resonate in our society.
How many times have heard or said B**c***d in anger/frustration? One of the many ironies in India is that while the bond between sister-brother is celebrated, it’s also the sister who is abused to insult someone. When it comes to Raksha Bandhan ads, this one wins, may be because it doesn’t peddle a product. This especially hard-hitting ad campaign by PostPickle has a powerful message – gift your (and everyone’s sisters) need something other than the promise of protection, give her respect. The ad shows a girl addressing her brother to thank him for all his gifts and asking for something special this year – to give up using the B-word. And we couldn’t agree more. (Take note, Mr. Kohli!)
As India celebrates Raksha Bandhan on 29 August, we hope that this new viewpoint of the brother-sister bond extends from television to real life as well. Women need more than the promise of protection, they need to be considered equal to their brothers and treated with dignity.
Updated Date: Aug 29, 2015 16:03:24 IST