upanayana


upanayana
Hindu initiation ritual, restricted to the three upper varnas.

It marks a male's entrance into the life of a student and his acceptance as a full member of the religious community. After a ritual bath, the boy, aged 5–24, is dressed as an ascetic and brought before his guru, who invests him with various symbolic articles. The initiate receives a sacred thread, worn throughout his life, that identifies him as twice-born, the second birth being effected by receipt of a mantra. Observance of upanayana is decreasing and is now largely confined to the Brahman class.

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▪ Hindu ritual
      Hindu ritual of initiation, restricted to the three upper varnas, or social classes; it marks the male child's entrance upon the life of a student (brahmacarin) and his acceptance as a full member of his religious community. The ceremony is performed between the ages of 5 and 24, the wide variance reflecting the classical notions of the different educational requirements of the three upper classes— Brahmans (Brahman) (priests and teachers), Kshatriyas (Kshatriya) (warriors and rulers), and Vaishyas (Vaishya) (merchants and tradesmen).

      After a ritual bath the boy is dressed as an ascetic and brought before his guru (personal spiritual guide), who invests him with a deerskin to use as an upper garment, a staff, and the sacred thread (upavita, or yajnopavita). The thread, consisting of a loop made of three symbolically knotted and twisted strands of cotton cord, is replaced regularly so that it is worn throughout the lifetime of the owner, normally over the left shoulder and diagonally across the chest to the right hip. It identifies the wearer as dvija, or “twice-born,” the second birth understood as having taken place with the imparting by the guru to the student of the “Gayatri” mantra, a sacred verse of the Rigveda. The initiation ceremony concludes with the student's kindling of the sacrificial fire and his begging of alms, symbolic of his dependence on others during his brahmacarin period.

      The actual observance of upanayana is increasingly confined to more orthodox Hindus, particularly those of the Brahman caste. As a prerequisite to marriage, it is sometimes replaced by a simpler ceremony, which takes place on the day of marriage; often both initiation ceremonies are omitted altogether.

      A corresponding rite among Parsis (whose ancient homeland was Iran) is called nowzād (Persian: “new birth”); it invests both six-year-old boys and girls with a thread worn around the waist. Some scholars suggest that this indicates a common and ancient Indo-Iranian origin of the two ceremonies.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • UPANAYANA — Rituel initiatique hindou réservé aux trois classes sociales (var ユa ) supérieures, l’upanayana marque l’entrée d’un enfant mâle dans la vie d’étudiant (brahmac rin ) et son admission comme membre à part entière de la communauté religieuse. L’âge …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • upanayana — noun /uːpəˈnɑːjənə/ An initiation ceremony undergone by Hindu boys over the age of seven belonging to the highest three castes, marking the start of their formal education. An Aryan boy had to undergo the upanayana that initiated him into the… …   Wiktionary

  • upanayana — Ritual de iniciación hindú restringido a las tres varnas superiores. Marca el ingreso de un varón a la vida de estudiante y su aceptación como miembro pleno de la comunidad religiosa. Después de un baño ritual, el muchacho, de 5 a 24 años de edad …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Upanayana — Upanạyana   [Sanskrit »Weihe«, »Aufnahme«] das, , eine der wichtigsten Zeremonien im orthodoxen Hinduismus, die der endgültigen Aufnahme in die Kaste dient. Dem Jüngling werden ein neues Gewand und ein Gürtel, die heilige Schnur, umgelegt, die… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Upanayana — Upa|na|ya|na das; <aus sanskr. upanayana »Aufnahme, Weihe«> der endgültigen Aufnahme in die Kaste dienende Zeremonie im Hinduismus, bei der dem Jüngling ein neues Gewand u. die heilige Schnur umgelegt werden …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • upanayana —    See sacred thread …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • Upanayana — …   Useful english dictionary

  • bhagavad-upanayana — भगवदुपनयन …   Indonesian dictionary

  • púnar-upanayana — पुनरुपनयन …   Indonesian dictionary

  • sam-upanayana — समुपनयन …   Indonesian dictionary


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