Police host Hindu celebration
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
London police officers entered into a sacred vow with young members of the Hindu community Wednesday (Aug. 29) when a Raksha Bandhan festival was celebrated at the Dundas Street headquarters.
Chief Brad Duncan said the ceremony is based on a Hindu tradition where sisters honour their brothers for the protection they offer. But, that has been expanded to include officers who have sworn to protect the public from harm.
“What our Hindu community has done is said, ‘We want to recognize the London Police Service — the men and the women — for the protective services they give to our community’,” Duncan said. “Last year we started this and it’s symbolized by wearing a band on our wrist.”
One-by-one, young members of London’s Hindu community tied sacred threads or bands — called Rakhi — around officers’ wrists, then marked their foreheads with sandalwood paste, turmeric and rice.
The thread can be worn for any length of time signifies brotherhood, fraternity, love and care, which are consistent with the traditions and values of policing.
Acharya Vivek, member of the Hindu community, stressed how a brother would protect a sister is no different than how police officers watch over the community.
“We’re expanding that beyond the limits of the family to include all members of the community and specifically those whose duty it is to serve and protect,” he said, adding that while the official date of the festival is early August, it was held later because of scheduling conflicts.
“There is a specific day, but it should be done every day, so when you do it is not so significant.”
Duncan was one of the officers who had the Rakhi tied around his wrist. He said the band lasted nine months last year before it had to come off.
He added as long as he was wearing the thread, people would ask about it.
“It gave me another opportunity to explain the symbolic nature of it, so that outreach went for nine months,” he said, adding he’s hoping to be wearing the new one until the ceremony next year. “It’s a great opportunity to promote a really interesting part of our culture.”
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