What Is Upanayanam?
Upanayanam defines the transition of a child from boyhood to manhood. 'Upa' means close, and 'Nayanam' means to bring together, it means to bring the child closer to the teacher or divinity. Upanayanam is also called the 'Sacred Thread Ceremony' and in the ancient times, this marked the start of the formal education under a guru.
Significance of Upanayanam
Upanayanam is also when the child is taught the Gayatri Mantra, which is considered to be the holiest of all Mantras in Hindu Literature. Besides other ceremonies conducted during Upanayanam, the most significant one is when the mother feeds the child herself. It denotes that the time has come for the child to go from the care of the parents to his guru. The ceremony is conducted only for boys belonging to the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaisya sects.
Not only Upanayanam is necessary to start your education in Vedas, but it is also mandatory for marriage. In the early days, it was considered that a person who has had Upanayanam follows all the oaths associated with it and leads a celibate life. The way a person wears the sacred thread also differs depending on the situation. A Brahmachari wears one sacred thread, a married person wears two and a married person who has lost any of his parents wears three. The sacred thread hangs from his left shoulder when conducting any auspicious ceremony and during any inauspicious ceremonies, it hangs from his right shoulder.
The Gayatri Mantra
During the Upanayanam ceremony, the child is initiated by teaching the Gayatri Mantra and the Sandhyāvandanam. Gayathri Mantra is thought to be the most important of all Mantras in the Vedas and is also called as the Brahmopadesam. The mantra is said to invoke brilliance and gives protection to the one who recites it. It has to be chanted in privacy with utmost reverence. It is chanted three times a day; morning, noon, and night as a part of the religious practice called 'Sandhyavandanam'.
Gayathri Mantra can be summarised as:
“Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.”
The 'Sacred Thread' Ceremony
Upanayanam or the sacred thread ceremony is conducted when the boys between 7 to 15 years old. According to customs, it happens in an odd year. But if the ceremony happens after 15 years, odd or even doesn’t matter. After going through the ceremony, the child wears the sacred thread, which is tied end to end with one knot. It is then wound three times and is worn on the left shoulder, falling under the right arm. The person wearing the thread should have purity in deed and word.
10 Precious Silver Gifts for Upanayanam
1. Silver Pancha-Patra
Pancha Patra is a vessel used during pooja in homes and temples. It means, a vessel to keep five leaves (Tulasi, Vembu, Arugu, Vanni, and Vilvam) in water for puja purposes. The leaves are put in the patra along with water which is then used during worship. Silver has antibacterial properties and the water stored in the silver Panchapatra along with the leaves is said to contain medicinal properties too.
The Pancha-Patra from Sri Jagdamba Pearls is made of silver, which gives it an elegance and an unimaginable luxurious look. This makes it an ideal gift for Upanayanam and pujas during auspicious occasions. Priced at Rs. 2,384 on jpearls.com, the Pancha Patra is made of pure silver with 80 purity.
2. Silver Lakshmi Pooja Chombu
Puja Chombu plays an integral part during a pooja at home or a temple. Not just that, it is also used for drinking water in many households. Silver is still used as a utensil in many households.
This Lakshmi Pooja Chombu is made of silver with a purity of 92.5%. The silver chombu is adorned with Goddess Lakshmi surrounded by elephants as she usually appears. Weighing around 63 grams, you can buy a chombu as a gift for Upanayanam from Vummidi Silverware for Rs. 4,086. Though it is on the higher price range, the quality and the brilliance of this elegant silver chombu makes it all worth it.
3. Silver Ashtothram Lotus Flowers
Offering 108 flowers during pujas is considered auspicious since the number 108 relates to the force of nature over which we don't have any control. Most Hindu Gods including Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, Lord Ayyappa and Goddess Lakshmi have 108 names which are called as Ashtothram. Also, note that there are 108 energy points in the human body.
The Astothram flowers are made of metal alloy and plated with silver. It is mostly used in pooja and occasions like Upanayanam. After the puja is over, you can collect them and store it for reuse at any other occasion. These Astothram flowers are available to buy at Amazon for Rs. 751.
4. Silver Cow & Calf Krishna
Cows are regarded as auspicious and holy by Hindus in India. Hence, they call a cow as “Gomatha”. Keeping that in mind, at most occasions, an idol of a cow with a calf and Lord Krishna is said to bring prosperity.
The Silver Cow and Calf Krishna by Jaipuri Craft is just the gift you need for Upanayanam. This intricately handcrafted cow and calf piece is made of steel and has a silver coating. Priced at Rs. 775, it comes with the dimensions 20 cm x 12 cm x 10 cm and can be bought from Flipkart.
5. Aesthetic Plain Silver Mens Chain
Gold jewellery might not be a safe option in this day and age, especially for a young one. However, if you really wish to get them some jewellery, silver maybe your best go-to option. But you need to be careful when you choose. It should be lightweight, aesthetically designed with a sturdy clasp.
The Aesthetic Plain Silver Men’s Chain by Oriana checks all the right boxes for you. The entire chain is made of small links that are connected well. Priced at Rs.1,995, it weighs at 33.5 grams and has a purity of 92.5%. Moreover, Oriana also gives you a lifetime exchange option with a 30-day return period.
6. Silver Ganesha Idol
Lord Ganesha symbolises good fortune and as such is worshipped before the start of any function. He is placed facing the north or west and offered prayers in all auspicious functions. With beautifully handcrafted Ganesha idol, you provide good luck and good fortune to the child. Such a gift is not likely to be forgotten.
The Silver Ganesha Idol from Vummidi Silverware is quite lightweight at 60 grams. It is intricately crafted, and the silver gives it an elegance and brilliant shine. Bestow your blessings to the child with this Lord Ganesha idol priced at Rs. 4,027.
7. German Silver Bowl, Spoon & Tray Set
Silver products always bring charm and elegance to the interiors of any home. Thes silver bowl, spoon and tray are made of German Silver which gives it a rich and regal look. The bowl, spoons and the plate are elaborately designed with floral motifs. It comes in a red velvet box, which makes it a perfect gift for Upanayanam. This artfully crafted German Silver product is available to buy on Amazon for just Rs. 235.
8. Feng Shui Owl in Vintage Brass
Owl has an integral part in Hindu literature. It has the honour of being the 'vahana' of Goddess Lakshmi. According to Vedas, owls are a symbol of success, good fortune, and wealth. The owl is also associated with good health. That makes it an ideal gift for Upanayanam.
The Feng Shui Owl here is made of brass which is a traditional alloy of five metals viz., gold, silver, iron, zinc, and aluminum. It measures 5 cm x 4 cm x 3 cm and is very appropriate to keep in your puja room; however small it might be. Get the Feng Shui Owl as a gift for Upanayanam from Amazon for Rs. 849.
9. Silver Photo Frame
A photo frame is just the gift to choose when you are confused, or you don’t know much about the recipient. In this case, considering the occasion, you should go for this silver photo frame. While it may look like a simple gift, it is sure to make the child and his family feel treasured and special.
The Photo Frame by Episode Silver is made of 92.5 Sterling Silver. It also comes with an anti-tarnish assurance. The frame is a regular rectangular one with a floral etching in the top right corner. It is priced at Rs. 10,999 which is slightly on the higher price range. But because it would be home to hundreds of memories over the years, it's well worth the money spent.
10. Silver Tulsi Planter
In the time gone by, everyone used to have a tulsi plant at home. It is quite difficult to maintain one at home owing to our busy lives. The best alternative is to have a silver tulsi planter at home. Silver, being a pure metal with antibacterial properties makes it an ideal metal for the tulsi planter.
The Silver Tulsi Planter from Vummidi Silverware is a must-have in every puja room to reap all the benefits of having a tulsi plant at home. The silver is of 92.5% purity and weighs around 110 grams. It is available to buy for Rs. 7,937.
Keep These Tips in Mind to Before Your Select an Upanayanam Gift
Gifts are appropriate for any occasion and certainly for something as important as an Upanayanam. When it comes to Upanayanam, Gayatri Mantra is considered to be the noble gift of all. However, considering the occasion is for a pre-teen or a teen, a few key points need to be taken into consideration when buying a gift.
Consider His Age
Age is a significant point to be considered when you select a gift for someone irrespective of his gender and occasion. You cannot just give a teenager something that he would have liked as a pre-teen. Their age plays a major role when it comes to gifts. Be it religious or educational or everyday fun, you should choose a gift that is age-appropriate. Your choice of gift should be right up to his abilities, not above or below. If not, your gift is likely to be put away or worse discarded in both these cases.
Consider His Interests
Children, especially boys, cannot be expected to retain interests. They tend to change and adapt to new hobbies and interests as they grow up. You really need to consider his interests. Choose a gift that feeds his interests. Don’t expect him to have the interests the same as when you met him last. It would be better if you ask him or at least his parents. A gift is best appreciated when it is useful or at least aligns with his interests or passions or hobbies.
How About a Book?
Books are fantastic gifts for people of all ages. The blessings they give compound over time. However, the choice of the book also matters. For pre-teens and teens, comic books are good gifts. But following the occasion, books on Sandhyavandanam and Gayatri Mantra are good options too. Children would now be expected to participate in Sandhyavandanam and practice it daily. Such books can be found on Ramakrishna Math. These books provide steps and detailed explanation of such rituals.
Ensure the Quality of the Product Before Buying
Silver gifts are no light items to be presented as gifts. We showed you some of the best choices from around the internet. However, make sure you do your research and go through all terms and conditions carefully before making the purchase. Make your mind only when you're completely satisfied with the product!