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  1. #1
    Brahmanyan's Avatar
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    The relevence of Upanayanam

    This week I got two invitations to attend "Upanayanam" ceremonies. Both are from affluent Brahmin families. The functions are organized in big marriage halls. I want to ask some questions to our members. How relevant the "Upanayanam" functions are? Apart from exhibiting our Caste identity what purpose it will serve for the youngster who is not going to study Vedas or Hindu scripture? Most of us do not even perform Sandyavandanam.
    I welcome the opinions of our learned members on this important subject.
    Regards,
    Brahmanyan,
    Bangalore.
  2. #2
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    brahmanyah,

    this week i too got invited to one. parents, son in the usa, poonal in chennai july.

    knowing the parents, the maternal grandparents - i had the same queries. but in the interest of family peace, i held my tongue.

    big hall. big tamasha.

    and yes.

    no boxed gifts please!!
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  4. #3
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    CLN
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    I too attended recently an Upanayanam in one of my close relatives' family. It was done in a very grand style, very lavishly, in a big mandapam. There were decorated menu cards for the sumptuous items for the Breakfast, Lunch etc. through a big caterer. The reception and dining hall attending girls reminded me of some reputed airline staff one finds in an airport, all with jackets (with their names running in their name strips in the jackets just like the running subtitles at the bottom of the screen in most TV channels!) and tight miniskirts! The interesting thing about this function is that the "VATU" was hardly a boy of 8 years and all the formalities were carried out as per the prescribed procedure. The family does have an ancestral background of vedic scholars, though no one from that family, at present, is in that line worth mentioning. Another speciality in this function was a lecture on Gayathri Manthram and the importance of Upanayanam, delivered for half-an-hour, even as the function was going on, by a scholar, widely believed to be an authority on Dharma Shastras! (He, in fact, appears regularly on weekends in one of the very popular Bhakthi channels, answering several Shastrams and Sampradayams related questions and is well-known to most orthodox Tabra viewers!
    Last edited by CLN; 22-05-2011 at 08:34 PM.
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  6. #4
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    CLN,

    i forgot to tell you the number of flavours of the invitation

    - traditional tamil
    - english
    - modern one as invited by the boy
    - evening concert
    - special one for naandhi party (close relatives only)

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    ganeshrev is offline Member
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    Some relatives who conducted this function in grand way , when I posted the question of austerity - replied "Anyway we do not have a daughter and we do not have the 'chance ' to spend for marriage and hence this grand function!
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  10. #6
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    CLN
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    There is an ironic twist to the matter in the case of the lavish Upanayanam I attended. The family people are very much devoted to Kanchi Mutt. In fact, the invitation, also printed in a grand style, does show a blowup photo of Kanchi Mahaperiyava on the front page. The reputed scholar whom I have referred to in my post, is also close to the Mutt. He has been appaluded by Mahaperyava himself once as an acclaimed authority on shastras. The only thing somewhat jarring in the whole story is that Mahperiyava has strongly exhorted followers to conduct Upanayanams only as a pure vedic ritual, without much fanfare!
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  12. #7
    anandb is offline Senior Member
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    My personal opinion on this is if people have the money to spend let them spend it as long as the rituals part is given prime importance as that is the major part of a Upanayanam. There are a lot of people who make a living as suppliers and support staff for these kind of functions-cooks, flower vendors, vegetable vendors, decorators and so on. If everyone starts doing Upanayanam at homes most of these people will go out of business. With money power growing in India, it is inevitable that it is spent on events like this but striking a balance is more important than altogether being austere.

    Also not doing Sandhyavandanam is not an excuse for not doing poonal. One never knows when one may start doing it again in life. I know a lot of people who start doing it in their late 30s to 40s and continue doing so. I am one of them as well.
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  14. #8
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganeshrev View Post
    Some relatives who conducted this function in grand way , when I posted the question of austerity - replied "Anyway we do not have a daughter and we do not have the 'chance ' to spend for marriage and hence this grand function!
    revathi,

    too bad i was not there. these idiots, would never even, in their current frame of mind, think of offering to help out in the marriage of their son. still the same old mind set.

    recently, only family offered 50/50. except the boys' side were so rich, that their 50 was 25 lakhs (no kidding). the poor girls's side could afford only 5 lakhs, and ended up selling a plot of land to fund the wedding.

    i was hard on the girl's mother as to why she did this - especially when the boy's parents came to her house to 'ask' for the girl.

    it was a simple matter of gauravam for her. i was floored.
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  16. #9
    subbudu1 is offline Senior Member
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    There is a belief associated with Upanayanam. If one believes in this there is no place for all the other show. I seriously fail to understand the desire for lavishness in this occassion. Marriage, yes, but why do you want to throw around money for this event.
    I really dont know. Upanayanam can be conducted in a simple style preferably at home with close relatives attending.

    There was this gentleman in my family circles who conducted his son's upanayanam in a very simple manner not even a mandapam was booked. It was sad that the ladies in the house had to comment behind the back , that why this kind of stinginess had to be followed. Do we ever learn?
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  18. #10
    kunjuppu is offline Veteran
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    anand,

    you just brought out the next phase of my thoughts here.

    incidentally the jews have a 'bar mitzvah' for the coming of age and initiation into jewry for the boys. and to be fair enough, there is, 'bat mitzvah' for the girls.

    like us, their initiation these days, is an occassion for money spent.

    in the early to mid 1900s, when there was more leftist idealism in the common jew (atleast i believe so), most parents eschewed this practise. their children, much later in life, reasserted this jewishness, by holding their own bar mitzvahs.

    anand, that is one option that we have. that way, conducting the poonal now, in the hope that something of this ritual rubs off into the child, for later germination, is but a forlorn hope, and not wedded to the reality or real purpose of the ritual. no?

    re your economic arguement might hold some water. but would not educating a poor brahmin child, in the name of all the money spent on a poonal, make more economic sense.

    having said all the above, i agree, that poonal is a private function exclusively to be decided for the sons by the parents. especially these days of single son family, it is an occassion for get togethers, as even weddings (& funerals) appear to come far apart.

    if the parents want to splurge their newly earned wealth on something extravagant, let it be so. but atleast have some heart for the less fortunate. make an announcement to contribute for some charity and exhort that the gifts be cash only, to be donated towards some public good.

    best of both the worlds.

    also, now a days, with girls only families, should we not have something equivalent for girls. definitely not the 'coming of age puppinatha neerattu vizha'. that one is an abomination, and is increasely given up by enlightened folks from other tamil groups as well.

    something more enlightening. perhaps high school graduation?
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