Friday, August 23, 2013

Changing Of The Sacred Thread

Don't be surprised. No Kolis don't wear sacred threads. Kolis are a tribe and therefore outside the caste system as per the ancient scriptures. 

My father has a fascination for rituals and is very religious. He was brought up in a different era so he always looked up to the Brahmins. I must mention deliberately our generation does not care a damn about the caste system, especially in Mumbai but it is definitely prevalent in other parts of India and is practiced even now.

Dad is friends with a Brahmin who is a practicing priest. He gifted my Dad the scared thread for the first time about a decade or more ago. Dad is like Eklavya and has learnt to perform some complex rituals, he does Rudra every single day. For Ganapati pujas he does Atharvashirsha. He also performs the Pavman on the important days in the life of our Guru Brahmachaitanya Gondavalekar Maharaj. This priest knew about my Dad's keenness in following Vedic rituals so he encouraged my Dad to wear a scared thread. Dad does the rituals only for himself and family and has performed on a rare instance for friends.

The sacred thread is symbolic of purity in thought, word and deed expected from the wearer. Any one who pursues knowledge and the Vedas can wear it. Anyone who pursued knowledge was called a Brahmin in the ancient times so the sacred thread came to be a mark of the caste in the later eras too when pursuing knowledge is not the only thing they do. Certain other castes adopted this practice. The initiation of a boy into the path of knowledge is celebrated with a ritual of Upanayana when he first wears a scared thread across his torso from left shoulder to right flank. Following the Upanayana the boy gets permission to do Sandhyavandana and Chanting Gayatri mantra. He has to practice this every single day. Obviously the sacred thread gets worn out and needs a change.

Shravan is the most auspicious month for the Hindus and the NarLi Pournima is designated as the day for changing the scared thread and renewing the vows of pursuing knowledge. Infact the scared thread is also called Shravani to distinguish it from a change at any other time.

This is only a decade old tradition in the family and only Dad follows it. I find it quite funny why Dad started this new tradition that will end with him.

What will be preserved I am hoping by my family and future generation are the traditions of Kolis. We are Koli and my bro S without fail offered a coconut to the sea, thanking the Gods for toning down the ferocious waters which are characteristic of monsoons and now the brotherhood can go out to the sea for fishing safely.

Here are my old posts on NaraLi Pournima and the specialities we Kolis make on the day.

NaraLi Bhaat

Chaurichi Karanji


  1. I think how castes were developed was in accordance with what peoples professions were and it just is not applicable anymore in todays and your Dad both are making an attempt in your own ways to preserve tradition and that is so awesome!!

    1. Yes, you are right about the systems but the culture should be preserved is our take.


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