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Fw: [temple_cleaners] Thread ceremony for Thane girl

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  • venkata krishnan
    B.C.VENKATAKRISHNAN. website: www.vedascience.com ... From: sri venkat Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 6:55:06 PM Subject: [temple_cleaners]
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      website: www.vedascience.com

      ----- Forwarded Message ----
      From: sri venkat <ahvenkitesh@...>
      Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 6:55:06 PM
      Subject: [temple_cleaners] Thread ceremony for Thane girl

      Thread ceremony for Thane girl

      http://timesofindia .indiatimes. com/Cities/ Mumbai/Thread- ceremony- for-Thane- girl/articleshow /4591371. cms

      29 May 2009, 0425 hrs IST, Bella Jaisinghani, TNN
      MUMBAI: A family in Thane revisited a long-forgotten Vedic practice on
      Thursday when they put their eight-year-old daughter through the
      thread ceremony, ordinarily considered a male rite of passage, at the
      hands of the city’s famed women priests. Her father, Amod Ketkar, a
      40-year-old employee of the Bombay High Court, says he was merely
      following a family tradition—his own sister had undergone the
      initiation rite as a child.

      Impish and moody, Sejal Amod Ketkar, who has just been promoted to
      class three in the Marathi-medium Bedekar Vidyamandir, sat through the
      hour-long upanayan or yagnopavit ceremony, reciting the Gayatri Mantra
      and Sanskrit shlokas with practised ease. “Her grandmother has been
      training her for a few weeks,’’ says her mother Asmita who works with
      Kale Consultants in Seepz. She laughs and adds, “It has all turned out
      so picture perfect, I wish I had invited more people in a more
      elaborate ceremony. But my daughter had never seen the ritual being
      performed for a girl before, so she insisted she would do it only if
      we had a small private function at home.’’

      Apart from the child no one else in the Chitpavan Kokanastha Brahmin
      family had any doubts. In fact, Ketkar insists he is part of the
      orthodoxy. “Would I believe in rituals otherwise? The upanayan is one
      of the 16 sanskars that are part of Sanaatan Dharma, and the mantras
      are known to help the child concentrate on her education through her
      scholarly life. As I did for my teenage son when he was little, I want
      my daughter to benefit from the power of the Gayatri Mantra and chart
      the correct path,’’ he says. Pre-empting any doubts, Ketkar clarifies
      that the ritual will not affect the child’s daily routine, let alone
      lead her towards renunciation.

      Still, this departure from convention did come up when they went
      looking for a priest. “We asked around Thane and travelled all the way
      to Pune but male priests were reluctant to perform this sanskar
      (ritual) on a girl,’’ says Asmita. “We finally got lucky when the
      local purohitas led by Vaishali Kale agreed to our request.’’

      Citing examples from the Vedic period, the priestesses of Thane note
      that sages like Gargi and Maitreyi underwent the thread ceremony and
      became proficient in the scriptures. “It was after the decline of this
      egalitarian period that the practice of upanayan gradually became
      restricted to males,’’ says Purohita Kale, who initiated Sejal by
      whispering the Gayatri Mantra in her ear. However, instead of the holy
      thread worn by boys, the girl will wear a necklace of fine tulsi

      Interestingly, apart from the feeble opposition that the priestesses
      encountered from the Thane clergy, the girl’s thread ceremony has not
      invited undue comment. The chief priest of Siddhivinayak Temple,
      Guruji Gajanan Modak, says, “While each household devises its own
      spiritual barcode, there is nothing in the scriptures that prevents
      girls from undergoing the thread ceremony. The upanayan signifies that
      a child is now mature enough to follow a guru and learn the
      scriptures. In the olden days, it was performed when children left
      home to join the gurukul.’’ Devdutt Pattanaik, another authority on
      Hinduism, has not heard of such a precedent but says it is entirely a
      matter of individual choice.

      A stickler for conclusive evidence, Amod Ketkar, however, is looking
      for the ‘Harita Smriti’, the scripture that is believed to sanction
      the ceremony for girls. “The Asiatic Library does not have a copy, but
      I’ll hunt it out and spread the word,’’ he promises.

      The Ketkars had broken the mould earlier too when they requested
      wedding guests to shower blessings written on chits of paper instead
      of uncooked rice or akshata. “Sadly, emancipation is a slow process,’’
      says Ketkar.

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