Author Archives: Jasper Mott

Raksha Bandhan in Hinduism

Folklore/ Text: Raksha Bandhan:

SM: “Although my parents are not very religious, my grandparents still practice Hinduism– sometimes my parents will practice certain traditions to appease my grandparents. One of them is called ‘Raksha Bandhan’ which is a ritual that surrounds siblings and the importance of a brother-sister relationship. But it’s mostly about the brother, which is a little sexist if you ask me! On the day of August 18th, the sisters have to tie a bracelet, known as a Rakhi, to the brother’s right wrist. But before doing so, you dip your finger in water, place the water on your forehead, and attach a piece of rice to the damp part of your forehead. Later, the sisters have to hand feed the brother something sweet. And as return, the brother rewards the sister(s) with some sort of gift which is usually money. Traditionally, we are investing a shared responsibility of care because the brothers take care of us as women. But now my aunts and uncles will send my sister and I money as well, as to make sure we are not only celebrating men during Raksha Bandhan.”

Explanation/ Context: Raksha Bandhan, while deeply connected to Hinduism, certainly has some dated ideals and beliefs. On this annual holiday, only the male siblings of the family are celebrated. However, my informant’s family finds a way to similarly celebrate the female siblings by gifting them money. This is an example of how certain lore can change over time with the ever-changing climate of society and culture. This is their family’s attempt at fighting against certain sexism. Not to say Hinduism is a sexist religion, however, this family acknowledges that not only men should be praised. The females are just as capable of being “responsible” for the other siblings.

Sleep Paralysis Demon

Folklore/ Text: Sleep Paralysis

SM: “Do you know what sleep paralysis is? It’s basically when your mind is awake in bed, but your body is still asleep. I used to get sleep paralysis a lot, and I would open my eyes and see a figure. Sometimes it would scream at me, and it was so scary because I thought it was real… Like someone was trying to attack me. To remedy this, my mom used to tell me “if you sleep in these certain positions, the sleep paralysis demon is going to get you!” But she would say this to combat the way I would sleep in positions that are bad for my body. I would always get sleep paralysis when I was sleeping pin-straight on my back or stomach. Legend has it that if you see a demon when you’re having sleep paralysis, the demon is coming back from hell to check on you… And now I still avoid these sleeping positions to this day, because I don’t want a visit from the sleep paralysis demon.”      

Explanation/ Context: Sleep paralysis is not incredibly common, but it’s something that is widely feared because of those who have experienced it. But the element that is folkloric about it is the alleged sighting of the ‘sleep paralysis demon.’ People who have endured this kind of paralysis almost always report seeing some kind of hideous, frightening, threatening figure. And its sightings date back to Why don’t people experience nice things during sleep paralysis?