UPANAYANA, in the Hindu ritualistic cere monials, is the investiture with the sacred thread, or Upaveta, which constitutes the second or spirit ual birth. It is practised by the Brahman, the Kshatriya, and the Vaisya, who are from this called Dwija or twice born. With a Brahman, it should be carried out in the 8th and not later than the 10th year, for a Kshatriya in the 11th and not later than the 22d, and for a Vaisya in the 12th and not later than the 24th year. 1Vhen five years old, the Ilindu father fixes on an auspicious day, and entrusts his son to a teacher. The instructor writes the alphabet, or rather engraves it with an irou style, sometimes set in silver or gold, on a leaf of the palmyra tree, which is then coloured with turmeric. The leaf is placed on unhusked rice spread over the floor, and the teacher, what ever the Sect or caste, of the pupil be, invokes the god Vigneswara to smooth the difficulties in the way of the child's studies. Then, holdin,g the boy's forefinger, he thrice traces with it the forms of the vowels in the rice, teaching the boy their sounds. The pedagogue is presented with a new cloth and some money, and dismissed, after which relatives and friends are entertained. On the seventh or ninth year, the Upanayanam is performed, on which occasion the family priest, Upa-d'hayya, SANSE., Upadhialu, TEL., causes the boy to offer a burnt-offering or Boma to the entire pantheon of gods, by pouring ghi (clarified butter) over the fire. He then invests the youth with the zandiyain, the zonar or sacred cord, letting it fall from over the left shoulder to the right side. He subsequently teaches the Gayatri to the boy, if he be of the Brahmanical order, as also the morning, noontide, and evening prayers, the due attention to which is considered sufficient to remove all sins committed during the day and night. The Gayatri or Gayatri-mantram of the Brahmanical or priestly order is never pronounced aloud ; and it is exceedingly rare that any Brah man can be induced to divulge it. Its literal
translation is, Om ! earth, air, heaven, Om ! Let us meditate on the supreme splendour of the divine Sun ; may he illuminate our minds.' It is considered the most venerable text of the Vedas, and the common belief in and reverence for it is the bond of union amongst the entire Brahman order. With this ceremony the boy is considered to be born again, and Ile is of the Punar Janina or twice born. This is the spiritual birth of the Hindu, or his regeneration, for until this time the uninitiated youth, though of the Brahmanical class, is only, so far as his right to perform religious ceremonies is concerned, regarded in the light of a Sudra. If the youth who has now been initiated into the mysteries of the Brahmanical order, be set apart for the sacerdotal office of the priesthood, he is further marked on the muscular part of both arms by being branded with sank u or chank and chikram or disc of Vishuu. This is called the Chakmukitam. From this time, how ever, he is ranked as a Brahmachari, or of the order of bachelors, for he has now entered on his religious life, the whole of the days of a spiritual Brahnian being apportioned into. four relig,ious stages, viz. that of the Brahmacharyani, or bachelorhood ; Grahastasramam, or the married state ; Vanaprastam, the living in solitude with his family ; and Sanyasam or the abandonment of all worldly matters. A 'bachelor's dress differs from that of a married man 'in so far as he does not wear the dhoti, but only a wrapper round the lower part of the body ; he is prohibited from eating betel, and continence is enjoined. Aniong other Hindu castes,- the Brahmachari ceremony is perfonned at any time prior to the celebration of marriage, but their Gayatri is from the Puranas, not the Vedas.— Wilson.