Strings of coloured threads, some with beads and pearls; some adorned by cartoon and film characters like Spiderman, Minions and Doraemon; some scented, with sparklers; some even in gold and silver — markets in New Delhi are full of all kinds of rakhis, but vendors say simpler and elegant designs have been demand this year.
According to online marketplace Flipkart, which offered a wide range of rakhis for customers to browse and shop from, the demand for contemporary rakhis has been higher as compared to traditional styles this year.
"Demand for designer and scented rakhis has grown tremendously. Customers purchased more of contemporary styles with beads, pearls or rudrakash or those that were had cartoon or kid-related themes." said a rakhi retailer in Delhi.
The festival, which falls on Saturday, celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. The sister ties a thread on her brother's wrist as token of love, but largely for a promise that he will always take care of her. In exchange, the brother gives gifts to his rakhi sister
Earlier, rakhis were mere simple threads, but now the markets are full of strings with multi-coloured stones, ornate embellishments and motifs, and in zari, zardosi and floral varieties. Jewellery stores even sell pure gold, silver and diamond studded rakhis for those who can afford it.
While a simple thread could cost Rs 5, the beaded variety begins at Rs 20 and can go up to Rs 300. The silver ones start at around Rs 1,000, and for gold, it all depends on the weight of the centrepiece.
A worker at a Hallmark gift store at a mall in Noida, said this year customers preferred simpler, toned-down rakhis over gaudy or stone-studded ones.
A new offering is the "Bhaiya-Bhabhi" set, which includes a rakhi for the brother and a "lumba rakhi" for the sister-in-law.
Online shopping sites are also catering to the demands of customers with a wide variety.
Bhavya Chawla, chief stylist of website Voonik, said the best-selling rakhis this year, are classy and elegant.
"The designs are simpler, smaller and definitely finer,” Chawla said and added: "Rakhis are mostly made up of beads, pearls, diamontes, zari patches and fancy stones, and come in mostly red, yellow, dull gold."
She said the previous years' demands for huge, bold and round top rakhis have been reapportioned to “sleeker and more stylish" one.
Customers are also on the lookout for something fresh. "I try to look for something interesting every year... something subtle and classy. I'm not into gold and silver rakhis," Neha Rathore Sharma, a 30-year-old design professional, said.
The men too prefer simple rakhis. “I guess it's the concept of rakhi that counts, and not how fancy the rakhi is. I would wear it for a day or two," said Arjun Gopal, who has four sisters.
For the children, there are ample options. "Comic characters are always a favourite with children. It makes them happy. Be it characters like Superman, Spiderman, Chhota Bheem, Bal Ganesh and Doraemon, they are all captured on the rakhis for children," Chawla said.