Published in ‘Times Computing’ on 9th August 2000
Sharmila, though studying in the US, will be celebrating Raksha Bandhan in style, together with her younger brother in India, with more than a little help from the Internet.
Wow, August 15 this year spells a dual reason to celebrate. Besides, it being India’s Independence Day, the day also holds special significance for the Indian diaspora spread across the globe. On this full moon day, Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated in millions of homes across the length and breath of the country. And, as in the years gone by, a special expression of love will be exchanged by brothers and sisters the world over.
Raksha Bandhan has from long back been a simple ceremony necessitating close proximity between the siblings of opposite sex, when the girl ties a sacred thread on her brother’s wrist in exchange for his blessings,and the unspoken promise of protection from all evil forces. What follows this brief exchange may be some tangible gifts from the brother which may be in the form of sweets, jewellery or even hard cash.
Raksha Bandhan symbolises protection and a loving bond and, in the Internet age, this bonding need not be limited to only those who live in close proximity to each other.
Take the case of Sharmila. This young lass left for the United States of America last year to pursue her studies. It was going to be a disappointing Raksha Bandhan for her, or so she thought, as she knew she would not be getting a chance to tie a rakhi on her little brother’s wrist.
Sharmila is not alone in her predicament; her case echoes the sentiments felt by a multitude of Indian brothers and sisters who are miles away from each other.
There’s no need to fret, however, with the Internet coming to the rescue of these separated siblings. With the help of the Net, Sharmila can now send her brother in India an e-rakhi, which can feel as good as the real thing, and also more importantly, or rather more ‘sweetly’ receive e-mithai. She can even have an ornate rakhi delivered to his doorstep and her brother can also send her a gift, which can be ordered on the net.
Like Sharmila, Indian women all over the world can now follow the sequence of customs and traditions for this special day as a clutch of Indian websites gear up to offer this service for siblings who reside right across the globe.
Here’s what Sharmila and others like her are bound to find on the various sites which will enable them to make this Raksha Bandhan day a memorable experience.
- rakshabandhan.indiainfo.com One of the better-known and popular rakhi e-commerce sites. The site is well-designed with a markedly traditional look with Hindu scriptures vividly forming the background of the site. A visitor is guided around by Ponga Pandit, a cute comic-book character. Who says technology doesn’t understands emotions and other lighter aspects of human life?
There’s no need to miss out on traditions and celebrations as this site certainly helps makes the miles shrink. The site offers 200 colourfully vibrant rakhis in five different categories to choose from.
The best part of the service unlike others is that the rakhi is deliverable to all countries and a person can pay in both rupees or dollars.
Other than rakhis, sisters can buy online apparel, watches and accessories, and gifts like digital diaries for their brothers. Brothers need not feel left behind as they can also buy sarees, gift vouchers, cookware, sweets, flowers and watches online.
- www.virtualrakhi.com A portal which offers free e-rakhi cards under its greetings section, is created by virtualrakhi.com. The cards are cute animated greetings which suit the occasion and have been sectioned off for different age groups.
The site also offers screen savers and wallpapers.If you’re the kind who has a deep interest in the history and legends of this festival then their section on History of Raksha Bandhan and traditions would make good reading.
Did you know, for instance, that at one time, Alexander’s wife approached his mighty Hindu adversary, Puru, and sought assurance of her husband’s life by tying a rakhi on Puru’s hand. The story goes that just as Puru raised his hand to deliver a mortal blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi and refrained from striking.
- www.satrang.com/index.html This site meant for NRI’s helps them to send a rakhi to over 60 cities in India. On sale are various hampers for gifting brothers in India. A gift hamper would consist of a handpicked rakhi, a greeting card, a pooja thali and delicious sweets. NRI can send their sisters thank-you cards and a box of sweets. Other rakhi gifts like jewellery, mithai and pooja items, besides a whole lot of other paraphernalia can also be bought separately online. Another interesting feature being that sisters can send e-rakhi greeting in four local languages.
- shopping.indianservice.com At shopping.indianservice.com they believe that distance should not keep siblings apart and hence are offering services. On this festive day, sisters all over the world can send a rakhi to their brothers in India. Sisters can choose between two types of rakhis, a standard designer rakhi or a designer rakhi with golden/zardosi type handwork. All rakhis are delivered in a sukan packet, which consists of roli (red tika powder), moli (red thread) and chawal (rice) packet. Also included with the rakhi is a sweet packet and rakhi greeting card. Priyanka’s, which is behind this site, provides two delivery options. If the place is within 50 miles of the following cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Surat, Baroda, Ahmedabad or Hyderabad, they guarantee to deliver in 12 to 24 hours. For all other cities they need 24 to 56 hours for delivery. All payments, however, need to be made in dollars.
- http://www.indiagiftcenter.com/ Indiagiftcentre.com of Datalink Soft-ware helps NRI’s send favourite gifts to their beloved family, friends and relatives anywhere in India at a starting cost of $5. They have special deals in their rakhi section which has on display beautiful rakhis and greeting cards. Women the world over can choose from three hampers being offered – rakhi Utsav, rakhi Sangam, and rakhi Milan.
Payments are accepted only in dollars and deliveries are usually effected 48 hours after receiving the order. A special section called festivals gives information on dates of other Indian festivals specially meant for NRI’s who may want to refer to it occasionally.
- egreetings.indiatimes.com/rakhi.html The E-greetings section at Indiatimes.com, one of India’s premier portals, has dedicated a section for free rakhi greetings. A variety of greetings suiting individual tastes can be found here. Also look out for other cool sections in E-greetings for other festivals and occasions.
- www.webdunia.com/rakhi Hindi web-portal webdunia.com too has geared its resources to satisfy the needs of people. The site makes provisions for anyone to select rakhis and send them anywhere in India or in the US and Canada. All that the user requires to do is to log on to webdunia.com, follow the simple instructions given there and an attractive rakhi will be delivered at no extra cost.
The cost incurred is only for the package itself. One can also choose from a variety of hampers, which is accompanied by a personalised message that can be written in any Indian language.
- www.greetsomeone.com/august/rakhi This site lets you customize your e-rakhi cards in terms of background, music and message of your choice.
Other greeting card sites that offer special e-rakhi cards are: