Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Hindu Heritage Study Program
 
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Principles and Practice of Hindu Dharma
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-HR 201.07
A Study of the Various Customs and Rules of Daily Prayer Worship
Teachings in Hindu Scriptures for the Rituals at Home and at the Temples
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Lesson - 105 :
Sanskara Rituals of Brahmopadesam
The Upanayanam rituals for initiation to Vedic Studies
Please see below
for Lesson - 02
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Among all sanskara rituals, those who study the Vedas consider that the initiation rituals of Upanayanam as the most important. In the ancient times, it is said to have been available to both men and women of all communities desiring to study the Vedas. Some of the Brahma gnanis like Parasara, Vyasa, Sathyakama and Padmapada are not born in the 'high castes' but organized the Vedas and compiled all the karmas for the upanayanam.

As the traditions changed after the eighth century AD, it was restricted to person born in some families of the 'upper' classes only and was denied for women. Upanayanam is usually performed at the age of seven or eight, because, that is the age when a child stops getting the benefits of the karmas of their parents and will have to learn and perform their own karmas. Upa means near and nayanam means going; that is the act of going to a teacher to learn.

The function starts with a Mangala Snanam, the holy bath of purification for the student and both parents. Then there will be pavanam, the hair removal or hair cutting. Then they perform Choula Homam, which is a Yajña as part of Deva Runam. The main function of Yagnopavitha Dhaaranam [putting on the Holy thread] is then performed. From this time onwards, the student starts wearing the sacred thread.

The Sacred thread consists of three strands of cotton threads with a knot called Brahmagranthi symbolizing Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The three threads reminds him of the triple debts that men have, i. Pithru runam --towards forefathers, ii. Rishi runam --towards the acharyas, sages and saints, and iii. Deva runam -- towards the Deities and natural forces. He also wears a dear skin symbolizing spiritual and intellectual pre-eminence and tied a girdle of 'munja' grass symbolizing the three sections of Vedas. Then the student is taught the Gayathri Manthra by his father or teacher. This is followed by 'the student' asking for alms of rice from his mother and other women.

 

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Lesson - 106 :
The Hindu Wedding or Sanskãra of Vivãha.
Rituals to begin the life of a Grahasthasrama
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Hindu wedding celebrations have a combination of traditional religious rituals and social customs and celebrations. The morning of wedding starts with a ceremonial bath, 'Vrutham rituals' and naming ceremonies of bride and the groom separately. The groom who has been a student goes on a 'Kasya Yathra' [also called Kasi yathra] wearing decorations, foot wears, a hand fan, umbrella and sandalwood paste 'for the first time'.

The bride's father stops him and offers the hand of his daughter in marriage for the groom to settle in a family life [grahastha ashramam]. The bride is brought to the front of the wedding hall where they both exchange garlands. This symbolizes the ancient Gandharva form [love marriage] of Hindu wedding. Then they sit on a swing or 'Oonjal'. This is followed by all the key religious events.

First the father of the bride washes the feet of the groom with milk, water and sandalwood paste. Here the groom represents God Sri Vishnu and the bride is Sri Lakshmi who will be united to perform the work of creation and preservation for the Creator. Then the bride sits on the lap of her father and her hand is held by the groom. The father of the bride offers the hand of the bride as his gift to the groom and his family in the main ceremony called Kanyaka Dhanam.

At the exact specified auspicious time, the groom ties the 'Mangalya suthra' around the neck of the bride. This is the most auspicious moment in the celebrations with loud music and every one singing traditional songs. After this the bride and the groom together perform various important rituals which include Panigrahanam or holding of hands. Sapthapadhi or walking around the fire, taking the seven steps with wedding vows is the most important Vedic ritual of a marriage. Then the bride steps on a stone when the groom holds her toes. Then they will be asked to see the 'Arundhathi and Dhruva stars' each with recitation of manthras. The wedding concludes with the couple getting the blessing of the elders.

 
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Chapter - 7: Rituals, Prayers, Practices and Problems - Lessons 105 & 106
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Lessons: ~: 097 & 098 :-: 099 & 100 :-: 101 & 102 :-: 103 & 104 :-: 105 & 106 :-: 107 & 108 :~:
 
 
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