06/25/2013 11:00 EDT | Updated 08/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Surrey, B.C., targets domestic violence with Rakhi Project

The City of Surrey is using a familiar South Asian celebration to draw attention to domestic violence.

The annual Rakhi festival honours the relationship between brothers and sisters. As part of the custom, a sister ties a purple thread onto the wrist of her brother as a symbol of love and respect.

Today, the city is launching its third annual Rakhi Project where men will be asked to wear the bracelet to show solidarity with victims of domestic violence.

Coun. Barinder Rasode says she hopes the campaign will instigate dialogue on the issue.

“What we're saying with the purple Rakhi, is that brothers who have the purple bracelets tied on their wrists stand with their sisters against domestic abuse and it is really to compliment a ceremony that has existed for many, many years,” she said.

Tracy Porteous, director of the Ending Violence Association of B.C., says the city has been grappling with high levels of domestic violence since 2005.

"In this one geographical location, women of one community were experiencing a high level of violence that was resulting in numerous fatalities."

The purple bracelets are being sold at Save-On-Foods. The proceeds go to the Surrey Coalition Against Domestic Abuse.