Upakarma (pronounced upaakarma) called Veda Upaakarma is one of the ancient Vedic rituals practiced to date.
The event is conducted once a year, in the month of Shraavana (mid August - mid September) and all the Brahmins follow it. The main activity performed in an Upakarma is the changing of the Yajnopavita (Yagnopavita) or the Holy Thread, Tarpanam to Rishis and Vedarambha. The day and its subsequent day are of great significance to Brahmins.
Upakarma, in Sanskrit, means "going near to and implicitly means to the teacher" and historically, the day was considered auspicious for beginning the Vedic studies.
Upakarma is a highly auspicious ceremony for the Vedic Brahmin community. The Upakarma dates in 2013 (for Eastern Australia) are August the 21st and 22nd for Gayatri japam.
It is the day the sacred thread worn by Brahmins known as ‘Yagnopavitam’ is changed. There are Brahmins who are the followers of Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda and they have separate dates for Upakarma. The ritual is also known as Avani Avittam in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Yajur Vedi Upakarma is observed on the Shravan Poornima day (Full moon day in Sawan month). Brahmins who are the followers of Yajur Veda change the sacred thread on the day. In 2013, the date is August the 21st.
Rig Vedi Upakarma is observed on the day before Shravan Poornima. Brahmins who are the followers of Rig Veda change the sacred thread on the day. Rig Veda Upakaram in 2013 is on Tuesday the 20th August.
Sama Vedi Upakarma is observed on the day after Shravan Amavasi (No moon day in Sawan month). Brahmins who are the followers of Sama Veda change the sacred thread on the day. Samaveda Upakarma in 2013 is on Sunday the 8th of September.
Legend has it that Lord Hayagriva, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, got back the Vedas stolen by the Asuras (Demons) on the Shravan Purnima day.
Upakarma means ‘the beginning.’ After a holy dip in a sacred river or pond or Tritha, male Brahmins change the sacred thread and wear a new one. Symbolically the ritual means a new beginning. Students also begin the study of the Vedas on this day.
Shravan Purnima is also observed as Hayagriva Jayanthi. To honor Lord Hayagriva, the protector of Chatur Vedas, Brahmins observe Upaakarma on Shravani Purnima day.
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