What is the meaning of these string loops worn on the body at all times?

I was wondering if anyone knows why these strings are worn on the body:

  • A cotton-looking string which is looped around the torso going from one shoulder to the opposite hip. It seems like the people wearing this are Indians. I’ve seen this a few times by both adults and children.

  • A black cord that fits snugly around the waist with a tiny, horizontal brass tube on it. The brass tube is on the hip. The brass tube is not hanging from the string. Rather, it looks like the string has been threaded through the tube. I’ve only seen this once, worn by a white man with light skin and red hair. So maybe something to do with Irish heritage?

I’ve seen these strings being worn at the gym where the people are naked except for these strings. I’ve even seen the cotton-looking strings worn by people at swimming pools. I was just wondering what the significance of these strings are. I’m guessing it’s some sort of religious or cultural convention.

This is a Brahmin thing. It’s a Hindu sacred cord. It is originally meant for men, though I wore one for some years as a teen. I was part of a very liberal temple, however. It’s for the privileged classes, but I am mixed-caste, so again, we show how liberal we were.

I tried to look for a cite but it is difficult. When I wore it, I took vows to behave as a Brahmin and a good Hindu should:

respectful to my elders
loving to those of my age
kindly to children
follow dharma and karma
Along with some other things I was instructed to do.

Ah here is some information:


There was a big ceremony when I did it. Sacrificial fire, the whole nine yards. I wore it for several years until I went to college and had difficulty remaining a vegetarian.