Sacred Thread Ceremony
My father explained to me in detail about Upanayanam and its importance to Hindu religion and culture. He had this sacred thread ceremony done to him when he was at the age of 10, in August of 1976. He said that this ceremony was the transition of being a boy to becoming a real man. It was more of a rite of passage ritual. He accounted all the things that happened to him during the time, as much as he could remember. He said that it was initially done to kids, in the olden times, to formally start their education, but now it is done as a rite of passage tradition. My dad said during the ceremony the child is taught the secrets through the chants of the gayatri mantras. After this he becomes qualified as a student or a Bramacharia.
The token of going through the ceremony is the poonal or the sacred thread. The thread is circular and tied end to end. My dad, who still wears it, said that it is supported by the right shoulder and it is slung behind the back. He changes the thread every year in a ceremony done in August of every year.
I had this ceremony done to me when I was 11 years old. It was a very gala event and I learned a lot during this time period, even though I was pretty young. I learned the Gayatri Mantras and many other chants. Even though I dont where my poonal anymore because of culture differences, I do the thread changing ceremony every year in August. I think that this ceremony is very similar to many come to age ceremonies done by other religions such as Bar mitzvahs. The day I had this done was very special and I wont forget it ever.