Upakarma and what it involves

Upakarma (Sanskrit for “beginning”) is a Vedic ritual practiced by Hindus

Ritual:

  • Changing the Sacred Thread: During Upakarma, people ritually change their Yajnopavītam thread, also known as the sacred thread. This thread is worn across the chest and symbolizes their twice-born status (Dvija) after undergoing the Upanayana ceremony.
  • Vedic Rites: The changing of the thread is accompanied by specific Vedic rituals performed by priests. These rituals might involve offerings to the rishis (sages) who composed the Vedas.

Timing:

  • Annual Observance: Observed once a year during the Hindu month of Shravana (usually August-September).
  • Specific Days: The exact day for Upakarma can vary depending on the Vedic tradition followed. Here are some examples:
    • Rigveda: Observed on the day of Shravana nakshatra (lunar asterism) in the month of Shravana.
    • Yajurveda: Observed on the full moon day (Purnima) of Shravana.
    • Samaveda: Observed on the third day after the new moon (Amavasya) of Bhadrapada, which usually falls after Yajurveda and Rigveda Upakarma.

Significance:

  • Renewal: Signifies a renewal of commitment to studying and practicing the Vedas.
  • Gratitude: The rituals express gratitude to the rishis for their knowledge and contribution to the Vedas.
  • Regional Names: Has various regional names, such as Avani Avittam (Tamil Nadu), Janivarada Hunnime (Kannada), and Shravana Purnima (other parts of India).

Additional Points:

  • The day after Upakarma is sometimes dedicated to reciting the Gayatri Mantra a specific number of times, like 1008.
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