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Hindu initiation ritual, restricted to the three upper varnas. It marks a male's entrance into the life of a student and his acceptance as a full member of the religious community. After a ritual bath, the boy, aged 5–24, is dressed as an ascetic and brought before his guru, who invests him with various symbolic articles. The initiate receives a sacred thread, worn throughout his life, that identifies him as twice-born, the second birth being effected by receipt of a mantra. Observance of upanayana is decreasing and is now largely confined to the Brahman class.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on upanayana, visit Britannica.com.
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