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What is Upanayanam ?

Upanayanam (lit. "near-sight"), also called "sacred thread ceremony", is commonly known for being a Hindu Sanskar, rite-of-passage ritual, where the concept of Brahman is introduced to a young boy.  The youngster is taught during the ceremony the secret of life through Brahmopadesam (revealing the nature of Brahman, the Ultimate Reality) or the Gayatri mantra.   The hallmark of having gone through the Upanayana ceremony is the wearing of the Yajñopavītam (Sacred Thread) on the body.  Yajñopavītam has three threads (actually only one thread, folded three times and tied together) each consisting of three strands. These threads represent :-

\ Goddess Gayatri (Goddess of mind),

\ Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of word) and

\ Goddess Savitri (Goddess of deed).

Upanayanam makes the person receiving it a Dwija, a twice-born!  The initiation was done by the Upadesam of the Gayathri manthram. The manthram is a universal prayer that can be used by men of all climes and creeds, for, it calls upon the Glorious Power that pervades the Sun and the three words to arouse, awaken and strengthen the Intelligence, so that it may lead to intense Sadhana and Sadhana may lead to success.
It is performed generally just a day before the upanayanam to obtain the blessings of the family ancestors .The feast prepared for that day is also very specific.. Nandi in Sanskrit means the beginning, so with Nandi begins the actual rituals for the functions. Usually during the Nandisradham before Upanayanam, the Brahmins are fed and various Upacharams are offered to them. Atleast 9 brahmins are served food and dhanam is given to each of them
 It is conducted for the purification of the mind and body and the protection of the child. All names of the deities are chanted in the form of manthras and invoked in water and then poured over the child.
 Under the guidance of a guru, the sacred thread is placed by the father across the child’s left shoulder. Further , Moonji (a gridle made out of Munja grass) is tied around the child’s waist  to protect the child’s purity and keep evils away.
 After the auspicious yagnopaveethadhaarana , the boy is fed along with a bramchari.
 Gayatri Manthra , the supreme manthra is whispered in the child’s ears by the father who becomes the guru  for the child.
 The child is taken out and asked to see the sun through a peep hole formed by clasping both the palms .
The child asks for alms of rice by saying  “ Bhavadhi Bhiksandehi” from his mother and other women attending the function. It is done to control the ego , which enables the young vatu to control his senses and then essentially receive vedic  knowledge.
 After upanayanam the boy seeks blessings from the elders by namaskaram. The child then introduces himself by his gotharam and suthram .

Sandhyavandanam: is an amalgamation of meditation and rituals. The principles of Yoga are the basis on which the rituals of Sandhyavandanam are designed. Sandhyavandana is a prescribed ‘nityakarma’  (Compulsory regular activity). Sandhya (the time of union) vandanam (worship) means a ritual done at the time of three junctions, Dawn, Noon and Dusk. Both worship and meditation are involved in Sandhyavandanam. Pranayama and Japam are involved in this activity.  Salutations are offered to the lord to thank for what we constitute of, i.e. panchabhootas -  earth, water, fire, space & air.   In the prayers that form part of the Sandhyavandanam, we ask the Lord for long life, health and prosperity and ultimately, we ask for more jnana. All these are included in the mantra. The very performance itself gives the result.

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