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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Mahāvrata literally means ‘the great observance’.

This is a rite that is performed on the penultimate day of the Gavāmayana sacrifice. In this rite a cup of soma juice is offered with the chanting of the mahāvrata-sāman. It is one of the well-known mantras of the Sāmaveda. An animal is sacrificed for the deity Prajāpati.

Some of the interesting sidelights of this mahāvrata rite are:

  • Playing on the Vāṇa or a harp by a brāhmaṇa
  • The udgātṛ priest sitting on a chair of the udumbara wood
  • The hotṛ priest sitting on a preṅkhā or swing
  • Wordy duel between a brāhmaṇa and a śudra as a part of the ritual


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore