By Swami Harshananda
Agrayaṇa literally means ‘offering of first fruits’.
It was a custom among the ancient people to offer newly harvested grains to the Vedic deities before consuming them. Agrayaṇa is an agricultural rite of the iṣṭi type which an āhitāgni (one who has ceremonially established the Vedic fires) should perform before using the newly harvested grains. The rite was considered necessary only with regard to vrīhi (rice), yava (barley) and śyāmāka (a kind of yellow grain, Panicum frumentaceum) and not for other grains, vegetables or fruits. Oblations of cooked food are offered to the deities like Indra and Agni. A lump of the cooked food should be thrown on the top of the dwelling house. The person who is sacrificing should also eat a mouthful of grains.
Even those who have not established the Vedic fires can perform Agrayaṇa in the aupāsanāgni (domestic fire lighted at the time of marriage) with an extra oblation to Agni-sviṣṭakṛt. This rite is called as Navayajña or Navasasyeṣṭi.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore