Buddhist bracelet, not Baltimore bracelets
July 4, 2008 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Today at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a Buddhist monk (Mahayana, since he was from Bhutan) tied a yellow piece of yarn around my wrist. Being as this was in a temple, I'm assuming this had some religious significance.

I've googled a very little bit on yarn on wrists in the Buddhist context. What I'm really curious about is when should I take it off, how, and how do I dispose of it? While I'm not Buddhist, I'm a polytheist and try to deal with religious things in the context of their religion, not mine. Not knowing that context is embarrassing me.
posted by QIbHom to Religion & Philosophy (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From E-sangha forums: I
t seems these bracelets are a form of protection for the wearer and are commonly given out.

"I asked the head monk about the practice and he said it is a protection because it reminds you of the Buddha and his teachings. He said remembering (and putting into practice) the teachings is the real protection."

Others call it a reminder and note that, "It is a practice in both Theravada as well as Tibetan traditions."

Another quote: "The string is cut from a spool of string. As far as I know, the string is used as part of a certain ceremony. It is unwound and each monk and lay person takes hold of it so they are all holding the same string and then some chant is made. Then it is wound back up. They cut the string from this same spool to make the bracelets. So when you get a piece of this string it is a piece of that ritual."

As for taking it off, is it tied very tightly? I imagine you could just slip it off or do your best to untie it, then keep it as a keepsake if you like.
posted by brina at 6:50 PM on July 4, 2008

I'm speaking to a Buddhist right now who says that if you don't want to keep it, the most respectful way to dispose of it is to take it off and burn it.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:17 PM on July 4, 2008

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