By Swami Harshananda
In the ancient days, the brahmacārins used to stay in the houses of their teachers and study the Vedas. After a few months of study and a short holiday, when they resumed their study, they were expected to perform a short ritual called ‘upākarma’. This ritual signifies the restarting their studies. The word ‘upākarma’ means ‘upakrama’ or ‘prārambha’, or beginning.
Now-a-days, it has remained just as an annual ritual. The procedure comprises the following steps:
- Saṅkalpa - religious resolve
- Worship of Gaṇapati
- Oblations to nine deities like Sāvitrī, Brahmā and Sraddhā
- Homa with a mixture of barley and curds with some specific mantras from the Rgveda
- Wearing of a new yajñopavīta
- Discarding the old one, preferably in the waters of a river or a tank
The same mantra and procedure for changing the yajñopavīta given here can be used at other times also to discard a worn-out or a dirty or a broken one and wear a new one.
- Brahmacārins are the Vedic students.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore