Bratabandha – Why and How!
Bratabandha is a basic ritual that every boy has to go through in the Hindu religious belief. This process is the gateway to maturity for the boy. The date and time for the Upanayana ritual have to be kept in focus according to Shastras. Without this Sanskar, a boy is considered as an incomplete being and along with this, the absence of this ceremony can even hamper his Marriage the reason being without Bratabandha, males born in the Hindu belief system cannot be married.
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The day before the Upanayana (Bratabandha)
Before the day of the main event, one has to do a few things beforehand as the base for the Bratabandha ceremony. The puja ceremony of the Diyo, Kalash, and Ganesh for the establishment of the Yagya for the next day, starts the ceremonial process.
For more information on the whole process of Diyo, Kalash and Ganesh Puja click this here
This process is called Purwanga Karma.
The auspicious day is the most important factor for these Puja ceremonies. Purvanga karma starts as a base for all the ceremonies that are to follow from here.
Matrika Puja is a way of worshipping the gods of the family home with the traditional approach followed by the ancestors.
- Dotted on seven places with Cow dung on a wall or the door of the house.
- Then, the same sequential design of cowdung on 17 places, is pasted on a rectangular surface on the topmost space.
- Next in line 10 spaces of cow dung is placed.
- Next line, again 7 spaces of cow dung is placed
- The last line contains 16 spaces of cow dung.
Each sequence of cowdung represents each Matrika and is worshipped with each step.
This is the way of worshipping our dead and gone ancestors with a Hindu tradition of Shradhha. Like any normal shraddha, Abhyudaya Shraddha is the offering to the pitris, for the celebration of Bratabandha.
During the evening before the Bratabandha day, Jutikadivasanam takes place in the same Yagya where Diyo, Kalash, Ganesh Puja takes place. This ritual is the step to get the boy ready for shaving his head with a blade for the first time.
A clean plate should be prepared with all the requirements that are needed to shave the child’s head. These necessary materials include things like blades, scissors, porcupine’s spike with white lining, Hot and cold water, Ghee, etc.
The kid stays with his mother while facing east while three yellow clothes representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar are taken. These three clothes are worshipped with different elements. Puja is done on the head of the boy. Brahma is worshipped facing south, Vishnu facing West, meanwhile Shiva(Maheshwar) is worshipped while facing North.
The spikes of the porcupine are used to supposedly cut the layer of the boy’s head into three parts. Now, the cloth is tied first on the right, left, and back of his head. Meanwhile, a little strand of hair is tied as the tail that he will be keeping as tuppi the next day. A big yellow cloth is used to tie and cover everything in place. At last, the spike is placed under the cloth on the right side.
The Main Day
The morning of the Bratabandha is where the rush starts as the family needs to prepare the ingredients for the Puja.
Although in the original ritual, shaving the hair was mandatory, in modern times, one can just trim the hair as per their wish. However one still needs to cut their hair for this process.
If you are balding the boy’s head, then there is a process for shaving the head.
For Bratabandha, hawan is a highlighted process that is used in different steps of the ritual. So the wood arrangement and the Yagya space is to be managed before getting into other details.
This whole process of puja is called Agni Sthapana.
Purified with mantras, the guru gives out Panchagavya which is the mixture of Cow urine, curd, etc, it is taken by the people around and the one who is going to be doing the puja. After which the puja can begin, as the individuals are all purified and cleansed.
Preparing the Karma Patra, where water with Kus is prayed and made holy and pure for the puja. This water is used for most of its needs through the process. After which the Kus and Water are used for Sankalpa stating the start of Bratabandha.
This Sankalpa is taken as a Vow in Sanskrit, for the tasks and rituals that are about to take place in the family. Gotra and name are also stated as the one who is about to do the puja.
Havan Vedi Preparation(Readying the place)
The arrangement of different spaces for different gods around the Yagya is all done with the hawan in the middle of it. Seating arrangements towards the South facing North for the family and the boy, West facing East for the Guru.
A series of ancient Vedic mantras uttered by the Brahma guru is called Swasti Bachanam. It starts the good vibrations for the puja.
Four directions puja
The area around the Yagya is to be worshipped in each direction.
Samhida are the woods that are used for the hawan. It should be placed in order as stated in the agni sthapana process. The fire for hawan is ignited with some mantra after the structure base of the wood is designed.
Agni is first prayed upon with Prathna and placement of Agni takes place followed by Agni puja. As for the process and materials required to do the Agni Sanskar (Agni Puja), it is explained in our article about Nwaran .
Igniting the Fire
The fire essence in the middle with some ignited cotton threads is worshipped as the Agni and placed upon the samhida. After this different steps are done by pandit guru Ji to worship the fire. And its attributes.
Brahma Vishnu Prajapati Pujanam
Towards the South of Agni three placement of Kus represented figures as Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh. And Guruji simply does its puja there.
Brahman Baranam is a process of handing out the Dakshina Tika and other necessities like Dhoti Topi to the brahman for doing the puja including him as the initiator and a family.
Punyahabachan starts the puja after the brahman bharanam. IT counts the brahmna as the family with sankalpa mantras, and the puja can be done by guru brahman.
Basic elements Puja
Diyo is the first element that needs to be worshiped, as the light and the first element for any puja basis.
Kalash Puja is done with different steps of offering elements and praying to the water deities.
The lord of the seas Varun is remembered and offered flowers, tikas, and other elements.
Tirtha Puja is done as a representation of all the holy tirtha Rivers for Hindus.
Ganesh is the supreme god and needs to be worshiped first before any other gods. Offering Red things and round fruits and Durva grass is considered blissful.
Raksha Bandhan Puja
Raksha Bandhan is the Red and Yellow thread that is tied on the hand after puja. It is considered to be powerful with the representative matras chant in it. So during puja, all the names of the gods are chanted while doing Raksha Bandhan puja.
Now Hawan has to be readied and done with sankalpa collecting charu ghee and holding it all with the suro in hand with KUs water and chanting that it is being done for the bratabandha.
Prokshani Patra Hawan of Ghee
On the left side, two kus represent Indra as Prokshani Patra with water placed on it. For this, the Hawan is done first with ghee where each offering is touched back to prokshini patra.
Charu Hawan to all the godly deities
The charu hawan starts after it, and the ghee is offered to the Agni with Charu and a mantra for each of the supreme deities, 9 Graha(planets) along with other local gods too.
As per the Hindu religion, the planets of our solar system along with some constellations affect our lives quite significantly. However, it cannot be determined what type of effect they cause. So to prevent these planets and constellations from affecting our lives negatively, Graha Shanti is done according to the rituals.
Graha Shanti puja is done with offering the elements to each Graha. It is believed to make the Graha on the positive side of our Karma.
Bali for Grahas (Ritual Sacrifice)
A Bali, prepared with Turmeric, Black seeds, Iron, Light, Food and fruits, black cloth is prayed with Akshayta and flowers and Mustard seeds for taking out the bad effects of the graha.
All the 9 planets and the Yoginis are given charu offering in the Agni.
After shaving the head, Bukuwa, a paste mixture of Turmeric, Sarayu, and Tori (Mustard seeds), Methi (Fenugreek), and the curd is prepared to layer the boy’s head.
A series of Gaudan follows the preparation as a Sankalpa process to start the shaving of the boy’s head for the first time with a blade.
After the hair of the boy is shaved, sisters are to get the hair on a plate with gobar Mandal. All the hairs are collected and wrapped in yellow cloth with the Gobar and kept in a pure and separate place by the sister. The boy’s head is then layered with Bukuwa after which he is bathed, changed into pure yellow clothes, and brought back in the Yagya.
This is where we start the Bratabandha. In this ritual, Mantras – those that will act as a set of principles and guidance- are gathered and chanted.
Gayatri Jap Pratigya Sankalpa, Varan(with Chandan, Akshyata, Flowers, Supari, Money)- Sankalpa
Gayatri mantra is the mother of all Vedic mantra scriptures, with which the boy’s education starts. To inherit the mantra granted by his guru of the day, he should take some form of Vow or a Sankalpa and adorn the attire of a sage.
Hawan for Upanayana
The Hawan- which has been going on in the background now focuses on the part of Mantras and Vedas. The boy is also included for the Charu Hawan at this point of the Bratabandha process.
Kandani Langoti gowned
Now to be a part sage, the boy needs to wear special clothes designed as per the tradition of the bratabandha. It includes Langoti, as an undergarment and yellow cloth as dhoti. It is said that wearing stitched clothes does not benefit the ritual aspect of connecting the body to the realm of spirituality.
Janai Dan before wearing the Janai
Wearing a Janai the sacred thread that is the most important element that the boy is to wear on this day. Janai ties the attributes of being a human under control with the knotted Janai.
Before wearing the Janai it should be offered as an alm to the gods.
Janai Dharanam with 3 Dora threads
Before wearing the complete Janai, a Janai that is made up of three threads is used as a representative of a complete Janani. This is done so because as per the ritual belief, a boy who has not done this process of bratabandha is not strong enough to handle nor understand all the grace of the gods and their blessings before they learn about the Vedas. This works best for the Janai is much better if a young girl (Kanya Kumari) of the family has made this knotted Janai.
The traditional shastra asks for Deerskin to be gowned, with reference to the historical elements of living in the forest after Upanayana. It’s not that important nowadays, but we can still find some skin elements in Puja shops.
A stick was used as a support for the long travels after the boy’s first education to reach the gurukul. Danda, which is the Nepali term for Walking Stick, hangs on the end with a thaili(pouch) and a light bag (Jholi) on the shoulder, to carry the boy’s belongings.
Downed in the Sage attire (Bow Arrow, Long Design of Tika)
A sage is someone who has given up on materials and the normal living of life and is off to find the greater answers to life and knowledge. The child taught in the same way about the life of hermit living. He is worn with a tika of Chandan, carrying Bow and arrow on his shoulders, is ready to be off for his saint life.
Now worshipping the sun offering water
The sun is the energy source for almost everything that functions in our world, the Hindu tradition gives light to the same thing. The child worships and offers water to the Sun and asks for blessings.
Gayatri Mantra Danam
An offering of puja to the gods around yagya, and Gaudan sankalpa for the mantra process.
With Achaman panchapatra, pan, supari, janai, bastra, authi, vethi, phul mala
Wearing the janai and tying it on the thumb of the boy, the guru whispers the mantra to the boy.
Covered under a towel, so no one else can hear it. The guru makes the boy repeat the mantra with each phrase utterance. It takes three phases of repetition of the mantra.
Then the boy has to do the Havan process with his own hands as signified by the guru
Starting with the mother, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and other relatives should give a collection of Alms to the boy for his beginning of sage life. He should take the stick granted by the guru and walk along with his maternal uncle. It should be done in the same pattern three times as he comes asking for the alms.
The collected alms should be brought back to the Yagya and presented in front of the guru. This shows his life at gurukul of service to gurukul and guru from being a student asking alms.
After Upanayana the boy is to learn the Veda Shastra, which associated with the Gayatri Mantra is the main basis for the whole Veda. To learn this mantra the child has to go through this Bratabandha process. After which, he will be following on to his path as his family traditions. From here on out, The boy used to take his place in the Gurukul to study,
The Vedaramva needs a series of hawan Sankalpa to inaugurate the boy’s Mantra granting process. Followed by worshipping the Bhanubandh(Bow and Arrow) and shooting the arrow. It finalizes the Vedarambha process. The boy should get down on his knees and bow on the feet of his guru to show his gratitude.
Samarthanam is the process of returning back home to start a normal life after graduation with a complete education from a guru. That is the concept that has been followed from ancient times. A child after bratabandha goes to the gurukul and learns various shastras and gaining knowledge becomes matured. Some might choose to have a life of peaceful sage and teaching methodologies. It is completely up to them.
The same concept has been implemented here in these modern times, though the practice is not altogether a compulsion but just a tradition to complete the process.
During Upanayana, a simple Hawan and sankalpa is done to achieve Samarthanam.
Astha Kalash Puja
Eight Kalash with different representations of deities associated with them is worshipped. Each one of them is to be offered with names and mantras chanted with different elements.
Now you should know that different kalash Pujas have different procedures. However, all of them do share some core aspects and it is a bit complicated for us to go into detail about Kalash here. For that, we have a separate article which you can follow by clicking our link where we explain about How Kalash is seen in Hindu Rituals.
The water from the Kalash after the puja is to be used to technically bathe the boy. It can just be sprinkled as pure water too.
Second Janai with full-fledged form
In this process, a new Dhoti cloth, a new attire, Topi, Eyeshade, shocks, and shoes are to be worn. Watching their own reflection and carrying a stick for the journey is done in this process.
However, as a whole, this is the process of wearing the janai with 6 dora which is considered to be the complete version of the 3 dora janai worn earlier.
Deshantar is considered to be a journey that encourages the boy to live on his own and find his path in life. But now, this whole process is completed with a simple ritual of taking the boy for a stroll to a temple nearby.
This boy is guided by his maternal uncle who takes the boy with him and tries to take the boy’s childishness into consideration. In this stroll, uncles convince him – the one who is doing the bratabandha – to have a life with his family and reconsider his thoughts of leaving home, whether he has those thoughts or not.
Getting back from the stroll, the boy is said to be convinced of living with his family and finding his path in life with his parents’ support. This creates a rejoicing moment within the family and the story ends with a happily ever after sequence.
The ending puja takes place after the boy is seated down back in the yagya.
Towards the ending of the Ceremony
The Hawan that was left off after the Upanayana process is now taken into action. All the remaining Charu is offered into agni with chanting mantras for Charu Hawan. The medha process of offering ghee on top of the charu with a Supadi ends the hawan.
A purnapatra collected in a complete vessel with rice for ending the ceremony in a complete form. After which Dakshina Sankalpa is done for the Guru Brahman that the child will have to respect and follow as his guru or a representation of his father’s image for the rest of his life.
Having a get-together party for the family and friends is a customary tradition for everyone. It is considered as the coming of age of the boy with the education aspect. After the ceremony and bisarjan with good heart rejoicing, people tend to have a grand celebration for it.
The long process has been defined with the best able definitions and guidance. It is a typical form of ritual that requires the best-held guidance of a pandit guru ji. That’s to be understood as you cannot simply conclude the ceremony by taking the boy to a barber to shave the head and making him worship the gods at a temple. It does not complete the essence of having a bratabandha. Having that guidance is a must. But if the time and situation classes with it, then in a short and simple way, it has been observed to be of a certain completion.
The short process requires the Purwanga Karma in the best way that you can have it. As its importance for Bratabandha is regarded highly in the Shastras.
For the day of the bratabandha, It can be done as simply as you and Guru Ji can make it. That is to say that the process can be simplified and shortened. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do a lot. It still contains a lot of the processes, but surely the time and the need for it can be minimized. It also depends upon how Guru Ji takes it.
Trimming the hair if your situation does not desire a bald head, a simple agni with short hwan process, a simplified puja of Diyo, Kalash and Ganesh are some of the examples of how it can get minimal.
The short process is normally not observed for a young boy of a suitable age. It is seen among youthful adults who missed out on their age for the Bratabandha and have to complete it now before they are married as our tradition forbids a marriage before Bratabandha. And the temple with a spacious area and a joyous guru with a supporting motivation help to achieve a short but still complete form of Bratabandha. After all, it’s about making the best of it, as best as your situation allows it.
So in short Bratabandha is a long and complicated process which basically transforms a boy to a man. Ritualistically and historically, doing a Bratabandha enabled a boy to travel to and study in a Gurukul – the school of that time which was located miles away from home- where he learned about life, Veda and matured.
Not so surprisingly, this is one of the most important traditions of the Hindu, but this is not the only one. So if you want to learn more about the rituals and customs why don’t you check out our work on Everything You Need To Know About Nwaran.
Alongside why don’t you also check out our Complete Guidance To Pasni as well?