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By Swami Harshananda

Prācīnāvīta literally means the sacred thread that is worn after taking it round’.

According to the dharmaśāstras[1] every ‘dvija’[2] must wear the yajñopavīta or the upavīta.[3] This is normally worn on the left shoulder, its right part hanging below the right arm. This mode of wearing, called the yajñopavīta-mode, is maintained for all the normal religious rites concerning the gods or the deities.

However, in the rites concerning the pitṛs or manes,[4] this mode of wearing is reversed. The thread is worn on right shoulder, the lower part hanging below the left arm. This is called ‘prācīnāvīta’ mode or ‘āvīta’ mode.


  1. Dharmaśāstras are the secondary scriptures dealing with the varṇaāśrama-dharmas and related topics.
  2. Dvija are ‘the twice-born’.
  3. Upavīta means the sacred thread.
  4. These rituals are śrāddha ceremonies.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore