all sanskara rituals, those who study the Vedas consider that the
initiation rituals of Upanayanam as the most important. In the ancient
times, it is said to have been available to both men and women of
all communities desiring to study the Vedas. Some of the Brahma
gnanis like Parasara, Vyasa, Sathyakama and Padmapada are not born
in the 'high castes' but organized the Vedas and compiled all the
karmas for the upanayanam.
the traditions changed after the eighth century AD, it was restricted
to person born in some families of the 'upper' classes only and
was denied for women. Upanayanam is usually performed at the age
of seven or eight, because, that is the age when a child stops getting
the benefits of the karmas of their parents and will have to learn
and perform their own karmas. Upa means near and nayanam means going;
that is the act of going to a teacher to learn.
The function starts with a Mangala Snanam, the holy bath of purification
for the student and both parents. Then there will be pavanam, the
hair removal or hair cutting. Then they perform Choula Homam, which
is a Yajña as part of Deva Runam. The main function of Yagnopavitha
Dhaaranam [putting on the Holy thread] is then performed. From
this time onwards, the student starts wearing the sacred thread.
Sacred thread consists of three strands of cotton threads with a
knot called Brahmagranthi symbolizing Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The
three threads reminds him of the triple debts that men have, i.
Pithru runam --towards forefathers, ii. Rishi runam --towards the
acharyas, sages and saints, and iii. Deva runam -- towards the Deities
and natural forces. He also wears a dear skin symbolizing spiritual
and intellectual pre-eminence and tied a girdle of 'munja' grass
symbolizing the three sections of Vedas. Then the student is taught
the Gayathri Manthra by his father or teacher. This is followed
by 'the student' asking for alms of rice from his mother and other