By Swami Harshananda
Mahāvedi literally means ‘the great altar’.
Somayāgas are the Vedic sacrifices wherein the oblation of the soma juice is the most important rite. It needs a lot of space, time and preparation. A special vedi (altar or platform) has to be constructed for performing them. This altar is called ‘mahāvedi’.
It is laid out to the east of the usual place of the gārhapatya and āhavanīya fires. It is a trapezium measuring 36 steps east to west, 30 (or 33) steps north to south on the west and 24 steps north to south on the east. The area is marked by driving pegs on the ground at the appropriate places. It contains many places specially marked or reserved for various priests and objects used in the sacrifice.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore