Monday, July 10, 2017

Upanayanam - Rules for Upanayana: The Sacred Thread

What is Upanayanam?
The sacred thread wearing ceremony that is performed to grant the male child with the right to attend the Vedic schools and also the right to wear the thread called yajnopavita for the first time is known as Upanayanam. It is a ceremony performed by Hindus as per some guidelines issued in the Vedas.

Who is Entitled to Upanayanam?
The males from the upper three castes of the Hindu religion are entitled to Upanayanam or with the right of wearing the sacred thread called as Janevu. But, some Vedic scholars treated the Shudras also as entitled to Upanayanam and to obtain the Vedic education.

We found that women were also allowed to go through Upanayana and get the Vedic knowledge prior to their marriage in some cases.

When to Perform Upanayanam or The Sacred Thread Ceremony?
As per majority opinion that prevailed from ancient periods, the following ages have been prescribed as the minimum entitlement to receive the sacred thread (yajnopavita) and to receive the formal education.

  • Brahmins at the age of 8 years.
  • Kshatriyas at the age of 11.
  • Vaishyas at the age of 12.
  • The upper age limit was set at 24 years in most cases and as unlimited in other cases. But, it should be done before the marriage in either of the cases.

Rules for Wearing the Sacred Thread or Janevu

  • The sacred thread is to be worn from the left shoulder towards the right side of right thigh crossing the chest so that it rests on your right shoulder and hangs towards your right.
  • It should be worn like that always ever after the Upanayanam ceremony till your death.
  • It should be treated as a holy and divine possession and kept pure always by washing the sacred thread also while taking your daily bath.
  • To maintain its purity, you need to protect it always from contamination and from getting contact with impure objects or substances.
  • Whenever you go to the urinal or toilet, you should tie it around your right ear to prevent it from hanging and getting polluted.
  • In case you happen to visit any house during their impure period (maila days) due to somebody's death, you should take a complete bath immediately after returning from there without touching any objects or people in your house.
  • In the case of death in your family, you should change the sacred thread with a new one chanting the Gayatri after the completion of the performance of the death rites.
  • If the sacred thread becomes worn and dirty or any strand of it gets broken, it should be changed with a new one chanting the Gayatri mantra.
  • In case the Janevu gets lost by slipping from your body or otherwise, you should wear a new one immediately after you realize that it is lost.
  • Whenever you wear a new sacred thread to replace the lost one or impure one, you should apply turmeric paste around it and the tilak lightly.

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