Traditionally, Raksha Bandhan has been a celebration of love between siblings –the sister ties a band/rakhi on the brother’s wrist and gets gifts in return, as a promise to protect each other forever. However, a new drive by a Bangalore-based startup aims to send 1,00,000 rakhis to the soldiers guarding the country, made by women artisans of rural India.
Named ‘Jai Jawan Jai Artisan,’ this initiative - while saluting the courageous jawans at the borders - also provides a livelihood for the rural artisans whose daily lives have been badly affected by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. This is organized by Rang De, a peer-to-peer online lending platform, founded in 2008 by Ramakrishna NK and Smita Ram. ‘Jai Jawan Jai Artisan’ is a part of Rang De’s project Habba (which means festival in Kannada), an initiative that aims to empower artisans financially.
The rakshis are priced at Rs.100 each. The startup claims that this initiative is completely not-for-profit and has honest pricing policy. “We base our work on the principles of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha, and aim to do our best to restore the lost artistic livelihoods. This initiative is just the start, and we are in the process of creating a larger campaign to revive livelihoods of artisans by promoting a ‘Handmade-in-India’ movement,” Ramakrishna has told media.
Rang De’s community partners for this programme include organisations like Kala Mandir in Jharkhand, Buriya in Tamil Nadu, Khamir in Gujarat, and All India Artisans and Craftworkers Association (AIACA) in Madhya Pradesh, among others. Since they are made with different artistic backgrounds, naturally, they come in different, vibrant styles – Ringal bamboo rakhis, hand-loomed rakhis, rakhis made from recycled plastic, tri-coloured rakhis, hand-embroidered rakhis, and much more. Every rakhi tags the place where it comes from, subtly connecting the soldiers and the artisans.
This year, Raksha Bandhan – which falls on August 3, Monday – even the siblings living in the same city may have to depend on postal services, as social distancing continues to be the norm. With national security being a crucial issue at the moment, the heartwarming gesture of rakhi for the brothers who keep the country safe could not have come at a better time.