Question: During wedding maiyan, why is the red thread tied around the wrist? -Aman
Red thread or gana is tied on the wrist of the bride and groom and all guest attending the maiyan ceremony as a shagan or blessing. This wedding custom is rooted in a Hindu tradition. At the beginning of Hindu religious ceremonies, it is customary for the priests to tie a gana, called mauli or kalava in Hindi, on the wrists of all people attending. Tradition dictates that the mauli, meaning above all, is tied on the right wrist for men and the left for women. The significance of the thread is twofold: it helps preserve or absorb blessing when it is tied during a ceremony and it protects and helps ward off evil.
In Punjabi weddings, gana is tied for the same purpose – as a blessing and a symbol of protection for the bride and groom. As in the Hindu tradition, gana is tied on the right wrist for the groom and the left for the bride. It is then tied on the guests attending – usually only the female guests.
The red colour of the gana is also significant. Red carries a special importance in Indian culture. It is said to signify purity, fertility and prosperity. In addition to this, it is also known as the colour of Shakti – prowess.
Albeit the most common Punjabi event at which gana is tied, the wedding maiyan is not the only event at which this happens. Gana can also be tied at any auspicious occasion. For example, your Auntyji has seen it tied at Akhand Paths.
Interestingly, tying red thread around the wrist is not only significant in Indian culture or religion. In Judaism, red thread is also tied around the wrist and worn to ward off misfortune brought on by the evil eye.