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What is the significance of Rishi Sunak’s red bracelet?

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The UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak made history when he became the first person of colour to take on the top job.

He has been outspoken about his Indian heritage and is “proud of his faith” as a Hindu. During his meeting with King Charles III where the monarch officially appointed him the new prime minister, many viewers spotted a red bracelet on his right wrist.

The red bracelet also featured prominently in his appearance before the Covid inquiry on Monday (11 December).

According to Guardian journalist Aina Khan, the string bracelet is “traditionally worn by Hindus for protection”.

Dr Edward Anderson, assistant professor in history at Northumbria University who specialises in history and politics of India and Britain, also tweeted: “The red ‘bracelet’ is probably a kautuka, which is a part of Hindu culture.”

A kautuka usually comprises of woven thread, cord or ribbon and is traditionally believed to have protective properties for the wearer.

It is usually tied on by a priest or oldest family member during a Hindu rite-of-passage or yajna ritual. It is worn on the right wrist for men and the left wrist for women.

The red thread also features in other family and marital ceremonies in Hindu culture. For example, it is tied to both the bride and groom in a Hindu marriage ceremony to symbolise the bond between husband and wife.

(Getty Images)

Sunak is also known for wearing other bracelets around his wrist, including a charm bracelet with the letters “DADA” that he donned during debates last year when he was vying for the Conservative Party leadership.

According to reports, this was an accessory made for him by his daughters Krishna and Anoushka.

A close-up of a Dada bracelet worn by Rishi Sunak as he looks at his notes during the BBC Leadership debate at Victoria Hall on July 25, 2022

(Getty Images)

Another type of bracelet could be a rakhi, according to Dr Anderson, which is tied onto brothers by their sisters during the Raksha Bandhan festival.

The festival celebrates brotherhood and love, and the rakhi, which made of interwoven red and gold threads, symbolises the siblings’ relationships.

Sunak is the eldest of three siblings. He has a brother, Sanjay, who works as a psychologist, while his sister Raakhi serves as chief of strategy and planning at Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education by the United Nations.

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