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Yajur Upakarma & Hayagreeva Jayanthi Special Workbook

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Dear Readers,

This year, Yajur Veda Upakarma falls on August 30, 2023. On this day, Brahmacharis replace their current sacred thread (Poonal) with a fresh one. The day following the Upakarma is Gayatri Japa. The Saama Veda Upakarma falls on September 16, 2023.

We strive to carry out these rituals in the manner in which our forefathers passed them down to us. A simple inquiry into their significance, on the other hand, will provide invaluable insights into their significance. In this article, we will learn -


Vedic Knowledge is divided into two forms: ‘Para’ and ‘Apara’.

  • Para Vidya, the knowledge of Brahman or absolute truth, is considered supreme.

  • Apara Vidya is the study of the Vedas and several other texts such as jyothisham (astronomy), vyakarnam (grammar), kalpa (rituals), and chandas (metre).

The meticulous study of the Vedas

  • leads one to realise Brahman (God)

  • gives a clear understanding of what true Dharma is

  • helps us learn about our traditions

Why does each family observe its own Vedic tradition?
Each Veda has many branches or topics. The Upanishads appear at the end of every Vedic branch. Each branch has a section called Karma Khanda, which provides mantras to be followed. 

Therefore, whenever we claim that we are followers of a particular Veda, it means that our forefathers have been practising the karmas mentioned in that Veda Samhita, and that they have passed them down to us from generation to generation.


When is it observed?

It was a bright full moon day on which Lord Narayana took the form of Lord Hayagriva. The horse-faced deity incarnated to protect the Vedas in the Tamil month of Avani on the Thiruvonam star. The day on which he incarnated and restored the Vedas is celebrated as the day of Yajur Upakarma.

Upakarma means the beginning or start of a particular study. When we say Yajur Upakarma, it means to begin the study of the Yajur Veda.

Those who belong to the Yajur Veda begin the study of the Veda on the full moon day falling in Shravan month (August–September).

Until a few centuries ago, Vedic studies were performed from mid-August to mid-January. The study was halted from January to August, during which time 'Utsarjanam' (giving up) was performed.

The Upakarma and Utsarjana rituals had been observed for centuries, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to limit studies to only one season of the year. Thus, we only carry out the Upakarma ritual and do not perform Utsarjana.

Why is Upakarma performed?

The main purpose of Upakarma is to offer prayers and express gratitude to the rishis who have passed the Vedas to us. They are called Kaanda Rishis. We offer prayers to those rishis who belong to our Shaakha or branch. For example, the Yajur Veda has Kaanda Rishis like Prajapati, Soma, Agni and Vishvadeva.

The Upakarma ritual consists of a homam (sacrificial fire), snanam (holy bath), yagnopaveetham dharanam (changing of the sacred thread), and tharpanam (offering prayers to our ancestors). The homam and the ancestral worship are given to the Kaanda Rishis.


The sacred thread when worn over the left shoulder of the body is called ‘upaveetham’, which is an important requirement for performing a yagna. Hence the name yagnōpaveetham.

The importance of wearing this sacred thread cannot be stressed enough. The Vedas mention that by simply learning and chanting the Vedas while wearing yagnōpaveetham, one has performed an entire yagna.

While pursuing the study of the Vedas and while performing yagna, yagnōpaveetham is a must. Only then does the exercise become fruitful.

The 'Upanayanam' ceremony is held to initiate young boys into spiritual learning. The word Upanayanam derives from the Sanskrit words upa (near) and nayana (leading to). Thus, the ceremony is intended to bring the Brahmachari closer to spiritual knowledge. The sacred thread is also called janai or janea, poita/paita, logun/nagun, bratabandha, bratopanayan, and mekhal.

Another interpretation is that all Yagnas (sacrificial rites) are carried out in honour of Lord Vishnu. The word upaveetham means "that which surrounds." So, yagnopaveetham is a thread that wraps around the Lord, who is Antaryami and lives in our heart region.

The recitation of the Gayathri Mantra regularly is said to

  • increase spiritual radiance and grant intellect (dhee)

  • aid in the control of sense organs

  • improves mental faculties associated with retention, grasping, and comprehension

  • It also liberates a person from the effects of sin and expiation

After Upanayanam, a young boy is said to be a Dvija—twice-born. His first birth was through his mother, and his second intellectual birth was to seek spiritual knowledge.


In Sanatana Dharma, we follow a number of samskaras from birth to death. Learning the significance behind the samskaras greatly enhances their value. It strengthens our commitment to them. Also, we can pass on this wealth of knowledge to the next generation. Let us make every effort to ensure that the current and future generations appreciate and recognise the importance of Upakarma and Upanayanam.

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