Nithya Karma and Prayer Rituals
Sanskara & Sandhya Rituals
Brahmopadesam & Upanayanam
Vivaha or Marriage Rituals
 

Sri Gãyathri Devi

Om ! Bhoor Bhuva Suvah: Thath Savithur Vare'nyam |
Bhargo' Dhevasya Dheemahi Dhiyo Yo nah: Pracho'dhayath ||

AUM, O' triple wonder of creation, continuence, and dispersion,
Splendour of the three inter-linked worlds here, and around, and beyond !
[Physical, the subtle and the potential]
O' adorable immaculate One, May You, that Supreme Divine being, stimulate
our intellegence for our self awakening, so that we may realizethe Supreme Truth . !!
   
   
 

Rituals of Nithya Karma and Prayer Services
The Sanskaras, Sandhya and Family Rituals
 
   
 

Karma, in addition to referring to our duty and activity for living, also refer to Vedic Karma or our spiritual duties. Thus study of the scriptures and performances of the vedic ritual are as important as the performance of one's Dharma or duty to the community according to one's birth and profession and stage of life. Every one has to perform all their daily duties according to their Varna-Ashrama Dharma and their education and vocational training. They need to do the sandhya rituals and sanskaras and the yajñas to people, animals, ancestors, celestial bodies and to God. All these have an important effect on our family, our future births and ultimate liberation from the Samsara or cycle of rebirth. The daily Vedic rituals performed are called nithya karma like the sandhya rituals, various Yajñas and Sanskaras. Rituals of sandhya and sanskara are prayers offered to the gods through water, fire and Sun. Contrary to popular belief, a Karma Yogi also has duties of offering his prayers to the Divine through Nithya Karma. He also performs his work as a service to God, as he sees God in every one.

 
 

Sandhya are the most important rituals that a Hindu is expected to perform in the house every day, three times a day. These are rituals performed at dawn, noon and at dusk to God, to the Sun and to ancestors. Yajna rituals are offered to Vedic Gods such as Prajapathi, Indra, Varuna, Purusha, Rudra and the Deities of the nine planets. The Vedic gods are the custodians of our social well being and only from our sacrificial oblations in Yagnas they draw their sustenance. The Pancha-Maha Yajnas which are important include Brahma Yajna or sacrifices to Brahman, to Vedas and to sages, Deva Yajna to celestials, Pitri Yajna for ancestors, Bhutha Yajna to all creatures and Manushya Yajna to fellow men. There are fifty-two Sanskaras which are listed as rituals performed at home, of which ten are important. These Sanskara rituals like Simanthonnayana, Namakarana, Annaprasana, Chudakarana, Upanayana, Samvarthana and Vivaha, are for family events. There are also funerary rituals which are performed after death of a person and srardha ceremonies which are rituals to ancestors performed by family members.

 
   
 
Sanskara Rituals of Brahmopadesam
The Upanayanam rituals for initiation to Vedic Studies
 
   
 

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. It consists of three 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 Gãyathri Manthra by his father or teacher. This is followed by 'the student' symbolically asking for alms of rice from his mother and other women. From then on the student is considered "Dwija" or twice born and is qualified to learn the Vedas. He is expected to recite the Gayatri Mantra and perform Sandhya rituals three times every day*.

 
   
 

*Sandhya Rituals

To perform daily rituals of Santhyavandanam and for a complete Sanskrit text of
Sandhyavandanam Manthra with English transliteration and meaning
Please read : Sandhyavandanam - by Sri. P. Seshadri,
Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
 
 

 
   
 
Principles and Practice of Hindu Religion
 
Hindu Marriage -- Vivaha

Devotional Paths, Prayers & Rituals