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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Upanayanam or Sacred Thread Ceremony - Part 1

Upanayanam, also known as the sacred thread ceremony. is usually performed for Brahmin boys at the age of seven or eight because that is the age when a boy stops getting the benefits of the karmas of his parents and will have to learn and perform his own karmas. The concept of "Brahman" is introduced to a young boy. The youngster is taught the secret of life through Brahmopadesam (revealing the nature of Brahman or the ultimate reality) or the Gayatri Mantra. The boy gets to wear a Yajnopavitam or sacred thread on his body. The Sacred thread has three strands each representing Goddesses Gayatri (Goddess of mind), Saraswati (Goddess of word) & Savitri (Goddess of deed).
I recently attended the Upanayanam ceremoney of my niece's son Yash at Chennai. In fact there are some religious rites that were performed the day before the actual Upanayanam. These are termed Nandi Sraddham and Uttakashanthi ceremony. The Uttakashanthi which is done for purification of mind and body and for the protection of the child. Names of the deities are chanted in the form of mantras and invoked in water which is then poured over the child. Next is the Nandi Sraddham which is basically performed to propitiate and obtain blessings of the family ancestors.During this ceremony at least 9 Brahmanas (priestly class) are invited,served food and their blessings obtained by the family.  Pictures taken on the preceding day are posted below:
The boy seated between the head priest (left) and his father (right)
Uttakashanthi: Pouring of holy water over the boy's head
Thol Thukkal - The boys uncle carrying boy on his shoulder
Pre-soaked navadhanyams or amalgamation of nine different grains kept in 5 mud pots
Pouring of milk and water on mud pots containing Navadhanyams - This is done for the prosperity and healthy growth of the boy
Boy's father tying kapu (yellow thread) to boy's wrist to protect him from evil spirits
Boy and parents doing sashtanga namaskarams  - fully prostrating and seeking the blessings of the Brahmanas (vedic scholars)
Boys father & mother washing the Brahmanas feet
Boy's father presenting gifts to the Brahmanas (vedic scholars)
The boy's father spreading his "anga vastram" (body cloth) to receive rice offerings from the Brahmanas
Closeup view of the menu served to the Brahmanas
Brahmanas being served food on plantain leaves-all of them wearing the Yajnopavitham

Pictures taken during the Upanayanam on day 2 will follow in the next post.

29 comments:

  1. i attended poonal ceremony of my cousins long back...it was a grand celebration like a wedding...

    good to see parathas in the ela :)
    and the vaadyar talking on his cell fone...
    lovely post sir.

    regards
    anu

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  2. The banana leaf looks interesting :)

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  3. @Anu: That is a sweet boli not a parantha:)

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  4. How common is this ritual in India?

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  5. it looks like a wonderful ceremony to ask for blessings for a young boy. i hope your niece's son grows up to be a wonderful man. :)

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  6. @Gigi: This is a very common practice in India.

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  7. What a great coverage of the event! Wonderful job.

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  8. My brother Ram,
    I had some knowledge of this, but you certainly enlightened me today. Quite interesting, in fact, very educational. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Nice post. Reminds me of my nephew's thread ceremony couple of years ago.

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  10. interesting to read and see the pics...we also have something similar in bengalis!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  11. Fascinating stuff to an outsider. Reminds me a bit of the Christian confirmation or the Jewish Bar Mitzvah. But this coming-of-age is more involved. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Very interesting post. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  13. What a beautiful sacred ceremony!
    So interesting what you wrote: "Brahmin boys at the age of seven or eight because that is the age when a boy stops getting the benefits of the karmas of his parents and will have to learn and perform his own karmas."
    I learned so much of India when I visit your great blog.
    So beautiful photos too!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Such an interesting ceremony - so lovingly done. The boy in the pictures looks very proud and happy! Love the abundance of colors and fruit.

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  15. Beautiful and interesting ceremony. Wonderful shots.

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  16. Wonderful shots of the function. This reminds me of my sons thread ceremony last year.

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  17. That was a nice coverage of the thread ceremony

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  18. Thats a beautiful description of the ceremony through your photographs.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

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  19. The pictures reminded me of my sons' poonal!

    Nice pictures! The narration also is very good.

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  20. A great ceremony and a great post my friend.

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  21. Yash is very cute! our culture vividly brought out by camera and computer. Lovely article in all and looks like great lunch too.. wonderful..
    ERR

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  23. The traditional custom... Beautifully captured...

    http://debnature.blogspot.in

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  24. Very well explained. All the photographs are excellent. I got struck up at one of them. The food appearing on the banana leaf!

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  25. Oh my goodness. This looks like a very important ceremony. So many beautiful plantain leaves with food that looks wonderful!

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