By Swami Harshananda
Abhisecaniya literally means ‘anointing rite’.
The kṣattriya kings of olden days used to consider it a matter of prestige and pride to perform the Rājasuya-yagna, an elaborate and expensive ceremony of royal consecration. Abhiṣecanīya is the principal rite in that ceremony. The name is derived from ‘abhiṣeka’ (sprinkling with holy water) which forms the most important part of the ritual.
The Abhiṣecanīya rite which comes under the Soma group of sacrifices, is spread over five days, consisting of one dīkṣā (taking the vows), three upasad (a group of rites in which ghee is offered to Agni), and one sutyā (pressing of the soma stalks) days. The Dīkṣā lasts for a year. In the actual unction rite, the water drawn from various sources and places is kept in wooden vessels and sprinkled over the king by several people led by the priests including representatives of all groups.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore