Every year, India celebrates Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August. This is a time to appreciate those who have stood by us through thick and thin and support and guide us. Friendship Day is celebrated on different dates in different countries.
While many across the globe celebrated their peers and their impact on our lives a few days ago, for those in India, Friendship Day 2020 will fall on August 2.
Interestingly, the occasion had first emerged as a marketing gambit by Hallmark Cards in the 1930s. At that time, the company's founder had positioned this as a day to commemorate and appreciate those closest to you, quite naturally with a card to show your appreciation.
But the idea stuck around. Eventually, in 1935 it was announced in the US Congress that Friendship Day would be celebrated in the first Sunday of August. The United Nations however recognised a different date. According to the observances listed on its website, it is celebrated on July 30 and was "proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities". Incidentally Paraguay is believed to have been the first to put forward this date and idea -- as early as 1958.
Friends -- perhaps one of the only relationships that most of us get to select voluntarily are also an integral part of our lives. Aristotle is believed to have noted that 'man is a social animal' and the need for meaningful social relationships even finds a place for itself on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Friends can provide counsel and support, and can provide comfort in times of need. Naturally, this is a two way street, and the same expectations have to be met by you too. We don't really think we have to explain the necessity of having friends.
And as for an occasion to celebrate them, well as the UN puts it, "Through friendship — by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust — we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good".
In India, people exchange gifts or at times, tie bracelets around the wrists of their friends to mark the occasion. Incidentally, this latter practice seems to have historic links.
While some have traced it back to Indigenous groups in Central and South America, others trace its origin to ancient China. A person is supposed to tie a bracelet around the wrist of a friend as a symbol of their friendship.