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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

In the ancient days, the brahmacārins[1] used to stay in the houses of their teachers and study the Vedas. After a few months of study and a short holiday, when they resumed their study, they were expected to perform a short ritual called ‘upākarma’. This ritual signifies the restarting their studies. The word ‘upākarma’ means ‘upakrama’ or ‘prārambha’, or beginning.

Now-a-days, it has remained just as an annual ritual. The procedure comprises the following steps:

  1. Saṅkalpa - religious resolve
  2. Worship of Gaṇapati
  3. Oblations to nine deities like Sāvitrī, Brahmā and Sraddhā
  4. Homa with a mixture of barley and curds with some specific mantras from the Rgveda
  5. Wearing of a new yajñopavīta
  6. Discarding the old one, preferably in the waters of a river or a tank

The same mantra and procedure for changing the yajñopavīta given here can be used at other times also to discard a worn-out or a dirty or a broken one and wear a new one.


  1. Brahmacārins are the Vedic students.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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