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Wearing the sacred thread or the 'Janeu' is one of the most important rites de passage for Hindus. This ceremony of wearing the sacred thread or the 'Yagnopavitra' is also known as Upanayanam. The Upanayanam ceremony is generally associated with the higher caste Hindus. It is mandatory for the Brahmin and the Kshatriya boys to wear the sacred thread.
The Upanayanam ceremony is usually performed at the age of 7 when the child is ready for schooling. The thread is given to the child as a reminder to the commitment that the child would stay completely committed to learning and education, avoiding all distractions. During the Upanayanam the child receives his first lesson of reciting the 'Gayatri Mantra' from his father who becomes his first 'Guru' or teacher.
Let us know more about this special ritual of Upanayanam and what is the significance of it:
The Sacred Thread
The strands of the sacred thread has symbolic meanings. The scared thread has three strands. A bachelor is supposed to wear only one thread, a married man should wear two scared threads and if the married man has a child then he wears three threads.
The three strands of the thread symbolizes three debts of man which must never be forgotten. They are:
- The debt of one's teacher.
- The debt of one's parents and ancestors.
- The debt of the scholars.
The three strands of the thread also symbolise the three Goddesses, Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This signifies that the person becomes complete only with the help of these three deities of strength, wealth and knowledge respectively.
Significance Of Upanayanam
The strands of the thread also stand for purity of thoughts, words and deeds of the wearer. Through the ceremony of Upanayanam, the boy is introduced to the concept of Brahman and thus becomes qualified to lead the life of a Brahmachari according to the guidelines of the Manusmriti.
Hence, wearing the sacred thread is extremely significant in Hinduism as it marks the beginning of education for the child.