Jewellery, perfumes and clothes are passe. The gift of choice for an increasing number of siblings this Raksha Bandhan seems to be cosmetic treatments.
Take the example of 23-year-old Payal Jain (names changed on request), a resident of Parel who was involved in a bike accident five months ago that left scars on her face.
"The marks depressed me and finally the doctor told me that there was a new laser therapy that could help remove them. But it was quite expensive," said Jain, who was in no position to afford the bills amounting to over Rs 50,000.
That's when her brother Yuvi (22) came to her rescue. "I couldn't bear to see my sister sad especially since I knew that before the accident, she was very pretty and particular about her face. I've gifted her many things over the past years but she really wanted this and I was in a position to afford it so I thought why not?" said Yash, adding that the first session will take place on Tuesday, which is Raksha Bandhan. For good measure, Payal is also now having her lips plumped.
Cosmetic surgeon Dr Rashmi Shetty said that five such requests have come in this year. "The treatment ranges from anything like this Q switched laser treatment to peels to hair removal procedures and brothers are picking up the tab. It makes the most sense, I suppose. It's not the kind of thing a boyfriend or husband would gift but brothers don't seem to mind. It's the first year I've seen such a request but like in the case of Payal, it's very touching," said Shetty.
Favourite procedures are usually non surgical given the short period of time involved. Dr Mohan Thomas, senior consultant cosmetic surgeon at Breach Candy Hospital who has had three patients this year, said, "Dermal fillers, Botox, these are popular given that there's very little down time. However I did have one girl who was 24 with a weak chin who came in around 20 days ago for a chin implant that was entirely funded by her brother. The general amount that brothers seem to willing to spend is up to Rs 25,000. After all, with people who are fairly well off, how many watches or scarves could you gift your sister? The gift of good looks holds particularly significant value."
Raksha Bandhan is otherwise also a busy time for cosmetic doctors. Dr Vijay Sharma says that women have come in asking for glycolic face peels. "The day usually involves lots of meeting with brothers and cousins so ladies do want to look their best. But often they're willing to fork out the money by themselves for the treatment," said Sharma.
Rs 50,000, cost of hymen reconstruction surgery
At Tihar jail, a three-month long designer rakhi making course was organised for inmates. The inmates used jute threads and wooden beads among other materials to make the same.
Apart from the usual cash and chocolates, new entries in the Rakhi gifts circuit are non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and surgical cosmetic treatments like breast, lip and butt correction and even hymenorrhaphy or hymen reconstruction surgery (virginity restoration procedure) to their sisters. So everything from liposuction, tummy tuck, butt augmentation, lip works, implants and reduction are on the gift platter this season.
Gireesh Pandia (name changed), an advertising professional, recently paid for one of his cousin's hymen reconstruction surgery, "She was dating a guy for close to two years but they broke up. A month back when she was engaged to another guy, I could sense that something was troubling her so with the help of her friend I convinced her to undergo the surgery and believe me the smile has come back on her lips."
"While two patients were accompanied by their mothers, one came with her dad and the rest with their brothers. I see it as a sign of siblings opening up to each other about their sexual lives, which is very important. Men can walk out of a relationship without any 'sign' of lost virginity, which is not the case with women. Now I don't need to tell you, how a 'non virgin' is looked at. If a sister can confide in her brother for anything and everything under the sun, that's' the best thing that can happen to a family. Moral policing should stay out of it because it's something beyond their understanding. Family values should help, not suffocate," said Dr Mohan Thomas, senior cosmetic surgeon, Breach Candy Hospital.