Raksha Bnshan 2018, use plantable rakhis for a bond of love ( Photo: Twitter/ @Pra87 )
More than a colourful, decorative silk thread, Raksha Bandhan has been a celebration of the lifelong bond between brothers and sisters, sprinkled with love, occasional fights and a dash of bitter-sweet nostalgia for a shared childhood.
While many brothers keep the rakhi on their wrists for weeks or even months to come, the festive thread eventually finds itself in a forgotten corner of a drawer or worse, a garbage bin.
But the advent of "plantable" rakhis with seeds strung together on a thread could bring in that element of longevity.
As the name suggests, the life of these rakhis won't end with Rakhi season. Instead, they will find new life in the form of plants.
"In the past years, the import of plastic rakhis, mainly from China, has increased. All our products are made by men and women of village Tauli Budh in Uttarakhand. The raw materials are grown on our farms," Nupur Agarwal of Evolve Foundation told PTI.
The rakhis, she said, are not just eco friendly but are also helping locals find employment.
The concept of plantable rakhis teaches one how to be patient and how to grow a plant, just like farmers do, she added.
Apart from a rakhi with seeds on it, the rakhi box also contains other plantable material like roli, rice, seed pencil, seed letter paper, coir boxes and soil.
Divya Shetty of Plantcil believes in the idea of recycling and re-using, and her idea of eco-friendly rakhis has garnered deserving attention from customers.
"The relationship between a brother and a sister is an ever-growing one, just like a plant. The seeds on the rakhi last for a year and we have sold four lakh plantable rakhis boxes till now," Shetty said.
Plantcil's rakhi kit contains a rakhi, roli-chawal, a plantable message card and a plantable pencil ranging between Rs 499 and Rs 2,999 based on the number of rakhis.
The seeds on the plantable material include lupine flower, tomato, marigold, and tulsi. Seeing rakhis stored out of guilt or simply thrown away led Divyanshu Asopa of 21 Fools to think of plantable rakhis with the aim of "restoring the essence of the festival with this sustainable switch".
‘’Every year, we see innumerable rakhis thrown away or stored out of guilt. This wastage of rakhis inspired us to create a seed paper rakhi which would turn itself into a plant," Asopa said.
The prices of plantable rakhis range from Rs 251 for one rakhi to Rs 1,001 for a set of 10.
It's not just about plantable rakhis.
The festival market in India has, over the years, shown a gradual tilt towards a sustainable and eco-friendly model of business while trying to keep the essence of the festival alive.
After eco-friendly gulaal for Holi, fireworks manufacturer have dwelled on developing eco-friendly fireworks for Diwali, and for Raksha Bandhan, the market this year is filled eco-friendly rakhi to choose from.
Evolve Foundation, 21 Fools, Plantcil, TRIFED and Abhika Jewels are some of the organisations that have kickstarted the initiative of plantable and handmade paper rakhis.