Essay On Upanayana Ceremony

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The Upanayana ceremony is a Hindu samskara (rite of passage) that intends to shape the social identity of a boy in the context of his community. In Sanskrit, “samskara” means “constructed” or “put together,” displaying the function of these ritualistic activities in the shaping of a person. Traditionally, through the Upanayana ceremony a 8 to 16 year old boy born into a twice-born caste becomes a student. The boy becomes a member of his caste and receives a new name, symbolizing his rebirth and new twice-born status. Before undergoing the Upanayana ceremony, children do not formally belong to a caste and therefore do not have an identity in the context of Hinduism. According to Bell, the characteristics that define ritual are formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance. Bell defines formalism as the “use of a more limited and rigidly organized set of expressions and gestures” (139). In general, Hinduism’s rituals are less formalized than those of many other religions, such as Christianity. However, some aspects of the Upanayana…show more content…
Often, rituals originate in ancient, revered texts or practices of a religion, acquiring legitimacy through their alleged age. For example, the Upanayana ceremony originates in the ancient Vedas; therefore, the ritual relies on traditionalism for its authority. Multiple Vedic texts outline the significance of the ceremony, although descriptions of how to perform the ceremony differ among these references. Regardless, Hindus view the ceremony as possessing divine origins as a result of its presence in the Vedas. Furthermore, the language of the ceremony uses traditionalism. For example, the words involved in the ceremony, like “samskara” and “upanayana” are Sanskrit words taken from the ancient, sacred language of the

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