Yajurveda Upakarma | Avani Avittam Procedure

Rig Yajur Veda Upakarma | Avani Avittam Procedure


Avani Avittam | Upakarma is the commencement or beginning of the study of Vedas. Avani is the name of Tamil month and Avittam is one of the 27 nakshatras or stars.

Places where the ritual is followed:

Avani Avittam is an ancient and important ritual performed by the Hindu Brahmin Community in South Indian states namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and in some parts of Maharashtra and Orissa.

Significance of this festival:

Men who have undergone Upanayanam (the holy thread ceremony) change their holy thread (Poonal / Yagnopaveetham) once in a year in the month of Avani.
This day is known as Avani Avittam, also known as Upakarma.

Yagnopaveetham:


Upaveetham means a sacred thread worn on the body without which a Yagna or sacred ritual cannot be performed. This sacred thread is known as Yagnopaveetham in Sanskrit and Poonal in Tamil.

For the year (2020) Avani Avittam is celebrated on 3rd August. Gayatri Japam is on 4th August.

Who is required to perform Avani Avittam:


Brahmachari, Grihastha, and Vanaprastha are required to perform Avani Avittam.

Brahmachari is the first stage of one’s life where he has to learn and get educated as a student for his future profession. He has to be devoted to his Guru/teacher as a student.

Grihastha is the second stage which means a householder, where he takes the responsibility of his family after getting married. He performs his duties for the welfare of his family members.

Vanaprastha is the third stage where one completes his duties as a householder and the Grihastha stage comes to an end. In this stage, he spends the rest of his life in chanting prayers and devoting his time to God.

Upanayanam - Ritual:


Upanayanam is an elaborate ceremony where the child enters into formal education, by adorning the sacred thread “Yagnopaveetham”. This sacred ritual involves the family, the child, and the teacher. Under the guidance of a Guru, the sacred thread is placed by the father across the child’s left shoulder. The Munja grass is tied around the child’s waist to protect the purity of the child and to keep away the evil eye. The Supreme Gayatri Mantram is whispered into the child’s ear by his father who is his first Guru. 

As the Gayatri Mantram is considered to be an auspicious and supreme possession, it is uttered by the priest into the father’s ear who in turn utters it in the child’s ear with a cloth covering them. This is known as “Brahmopadhesam”. The brain functioning of a child starts at the age of seven. Upanayanam is performed for a male child, to prove that the child has developed well to be introduced to the study of Vedas. The sacred thread ceremony is performed at the age of seven, nine, or eleven.

The Three Threads of Poonal signify:


The three threads of Poonal signify the three Goddesses – Parvathi (strength), Lakshmi (wealth), and Saraswathi (knowledge).

In Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, in several areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the sacred thread is known as Janoi, Janeva, or Janeu. The Janoi is made up of three strands, representing the purity of thought, words, and action. According to some Hindu communities, the Upanayanam ceremony confirms that the boy is eligible to take the religious responsibility.

The story behind Avani Avittam: 


At the time of creation, Lord Maha Vishnu gave all the Vedas to Brahma. Two demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma and hid them under the bottom of the ocean. Unable to save the Vedas, Brahma sought Lord Vishnu’s help to restore the Vedas. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of Hayagriva, killed the demons, and retrieved the Vedas. Restoration of the Vedas is known as a mark of a new beginning and this day is celebrated as Avani Avittam.

Another version about the form of Hayagriva:


The son of Kasyapa Prajapati was Hayagriva, a demon with a horse face. Goddess Durga pleased by his severe penance granted him a boon that he could only be killed by another Hayagriva. After getting this boon, he started to create havoc in Devalokha. Unable to control the cruel demon, the Devas went to Lord Maha Vishnu and sought His help. 

Maha Vishnu agreed to help them. A fierce battle between Maha Vishnu and the demon Hayagriva took place which lasted for a very long period. The demon was invincible as the boon was granted by the Supreme Goddess and Maha Vishnu became too tired after the battle. Unaware of the circumstances Maha Vishnu fell into a deep sleep in the standing position with His head rested on the tip of the peerless bow. 

The Devas and Brahma wanted Maha Vishnu to resume the battle and were worried about how to wake up the Supreme Lord from His deep sleep. After consulting with Lord Siva, Brahma started to implement a plan. He created the tiny beetle insect to gnaw the bowstring so that it would cut the bowstring and produce a resonant sound that would wake up the Supreme Lord. But something unexpected happened which perplexed everyone. 

The bowstring broke with a tremendous sound that resonated throughout the universe and the force with which it broke was so powerful that Vishnu’s head got separated from His body. The Devas and Brahma were in dismay. All the creations in the universe started to act in a different way. The sun began to rise and set before its appointed time. 

The Devas and Brahma invoked Goddess Durga by their intense prayers and wanted to seek Her advice to find a solution for the unexpected failure of Brahma’s plan. Goddess Durga was delighted by their prayers and She told that the incident had a divine purpose. 

Goddess told that She would help them to come out of the disaster. She asked them to attach the head of a horse to Vishnu’s neck, which would later become another Hayagriva and this would enable Him to kill the demon. 

As a result, Brahma attached the head of a white horse to Vishnu’s neck and the revived Vishnu destroyed the demon. Later, He regained His usual form. This incarnation as Hayagriva is worshipped as a personification of all knowledge and wisdom.

Avani Avittam - Procedure:


Those who follow Yajur Veda and Rig Veda perform Upakarma on the full moon day in the month of Avani (Tamil month), while those who follow Sama Veda perform Upakarma on Ganesh Chathurthi. On the day of Avani Avittam, Ezhai Kolam with Kavi is drawn in the threshold and in the pooja room. Lamps and incense sticks are lighted.

After taking bath, men do Sandyavandhanam, Samithadhanam (only for Brahmachari) Kamokarsheet Japam, Madhyanikam, BrahmaYagnam, MahaSankalpam. After taking bath again, the Holy Thread is changed and Kaandarishi Tharpanam, Vedarambam are performed. 

The tradition of going to the temple to observe the Upakarma is also followed. Aarathi is taken for the male members after changing the sacred thread. Those who are unable to go to the temple change the sacred thread at their homes.

The day after Avani Avittam, after taking bath, Gayathri Japam is chanted 1008 times.

Gayathri Mantram is revered to be a Supreme Mantram from the Rig Veda, created by Maharishi Vishvamitra dedicated to the Mother of Vedas, Gayathri, the deity of five elements.

Gayathri manifests as three entities. Gayathri the storehouse of wisdom, Savitri the life force, and Saraswathi the embodiment of knowledge. Gayathri is depicted as five faced and ten armed. Her five faces represent the five elements……air, water, earth, fire, and ether. She grants all essential benefits to those who chant Gayathri mantram together with Surya (as Surya is the adhidevata for Gayatri Mantram). The essence of Gayatri is found in Ramayana.

The right time to chant Gayatri Mantra:

Gayatri Mantra should be chanted at dawn, noon and dusk, facing the Sun in the east, the north, and the west directions. Gayathri Mantram is dedicated to the Sun God, the presiding deity of our Solar system. Hence it is chanted only between sunrise and sunset.

Chanting Gayatri Mantra stabilizes the mind and grants success in life. It also regulates the functioning of organs as it is a form of yoga.

Note:

Samithadhanam is a ritual to be performed after the Upanayanam (Sacred Thread Ceremony). It is an offering to worship Surya (Sun). Samith is a stick from the peepal tree. Adhanam is placing a stick (Samith) on fire.

Peepal tree’s branch sticks are used as this tree has the power to purify the human body system.

Kamokarsheet Japam:

Upakarma begins with Kamokarsheet Japam as an act of atonement (Prayaschitta).

Kaanda Rishi Tharpanam: 


Tharpana is a sign of expressing gratitude to the Sages who have gifted the mantras to us. Yajur Veda is divided into seven parts called Kaanda (Chapter). Each chapter is attributed to be the compilation by Rishi (Sage). They are called Kaanda Rishis.

MahaSankalpam:

Every ritual begins with Sankalpam. Upakarma begins with MahaSankalpam. It gives the current time and the location of the performer starting from the lifetime of Brahma and invoking the blessings of various Devathas and Gods.

Sandhyavandanam:

Sun constitutes a change from darkness to light which constitutes sun rise - Sandhya (that is a junction) and sunset - Sandhya (a junction). The prayers at Sandhya time are called Sandhyavandanam. The prayer at the noon is known as Madhyanikam. It is a recitation from Vedas. Sandhyavandanam is performed thrice a day morning, noon and evening. It is a ritual performed by those who have been initiated with the sacred thread.

BrahmaYagnam (sacrifice to Brahma) is the oblation offered to satisfy Devas, Rishis (Sages), and Pithrus (ancestors).

The Vedas are divided into Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda.

Rig Veda contains various hymns for praying Gods such as Agni (Fire God), Indra (the Lord of Heavens), Mitra, Varuna (Rain God), Surya (Sun God). These hymns are called Riks. Hence the Veda is called Rik or Rig Veda.

Yajur Veda describes mantras to be uttered during Vedic rituals. Yajus means to worship and Vedas means knowledge.

Sama Veda represents the force of spiritual knowledge and the power of devotion. It consists of hymns of the Rig Veda put to a musical measure. It is Vedas of melodies and chants.

Atharvana Veda is a Vedic collection of spells, prayers, charms, and hymn


Disclaimer:-

The story, instructions, and procedures behind the Upakarma/Avani Avittam mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Pooja at home and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing the Pooja every year and you may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding!!!

Check out my other South Indian festival procedures if interested, the festival posts links are given below for you:)

How to celebrate Varalakshmi Nombu and Pooja Procedure 

Navarathiri Festival Story and Pooja Procedure 2020

Aadi Perukku Festival 



Authors: Revathi & Pavithra


Learn how to perform Yajurveda Upakarma | Avani Avittam with a detailed pooja procedure.


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10 Comments

  1. What a brilliant and detailed description of this! It was a great read!!

    ReplyDelete

  2. It shows how much homework has been done.
    Super explanations
    Taking lot of pain to
    go through the old records to get deep information about our culture and traditions.
    Wish you all the best to get
    Great Laurels.
    May God bless you in the venture.

    VS

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent way of describing the precise procedure to be followed. Great effort.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very elaborate and well explained
    Great work don't by the authors !!
    All the best!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very informative... Did not know these facts.. Thx Manni and Pavi for doing all the work to reach out to us with these facts.

    ReplyDelete