The Indian holiday of Raksha Bandhan takes place on the full-moon day of August. The name is Sanskrit for “a bond of protection.” The custom is that women tie rakhis—bracelets woven from thread—on men’s wrists to symbolize a brother-sister bond. On the Siddha Yoga path, Raksha Bandhan is a time to honor the bond of love and protection between Guru and disciple, as well as the bond among seekers. One way that Siddha Yogis celebrate is by tying rakhis on each other’s wrist to signify this bond.
Thread is a symbol woven into other Indian traditions and into many other cultures throughout the world.
In India, young brahmins receive a sacred thread that is looped over their chest and left shoulder in a ceremony called upanayanam. Being given this sacred thread, which is worn by brahmins throughout their lives, signals a boy’s readiness for spiritual study. When Indian women marry, it is traditional that they receive a yellow thread strung with beads and a pendant. With this thread, called a mangala-sutra or “auspicious thread,” the wife grants her protection to her husband.
In many places, thread represents a form of protection. A folk custom in Judaism is to wear a red wool thread on the left wrist for protection. Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism tie a red thread around a disciple’s neck to bestow their blessings and protection. In China there is a legend, known as the red string of destiny, in which the gods tie an invisible red thread around the ankles or fingers of two people who are fated to meet and in some way help each other. This subtle thread will not break, regardless of time, distance, or circumstance.