Occasional Brahmin, and Brothers ‘n’ Sisters

The full moon day of this lunar calendar month is celebrated in some south Indian families as Aavani Avittom. On this day every year, Hindu brahmins change their sacred thread for a new one. Since I do not practice sandhya vandanam (daily prayers), I call myself an occasional brahmin. I still do aavani avittom though.

The ceremony is done with the guidance of a priest in the local temple. Our local temple offered the ceremony in a group setting on Friday for followers of the Rig Veda. And on Saturday for Yajur Veda families. What’s more, on Saturday I had three timeslots to pick from: 6 am, 7 am and 8 am. Isn’t that amazing, considering that this isn’t Chennai; it’s Austin, Texas!

Our priest explained one aspect of the ceremony that I did not remember from prior years: this day is also an occasion for vidyaarambham, or the (re-)commencement of our education in the vedas. After wearing the new thread, he led us in a few verses from each of the four vedas as a symbolic vidyaarambham.

On this day many Indian families also celebrate Rakshabandhan, the festival that honors the brother-sister relationship. Sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers, who in turn give gifts and pledge to protect their sisters. The relationship is cemented by the tying of the rakhi by the sister on the wrist of each of her brothers. In the Indian context, cousins are counted as well.

Shraddha’s family on her dad’s side drove from Houston to our home in Austin to celebrate. Numbering twenty in all, for the weekend they ensured that our home was overrun with Gujju talk, Gujju food and Gujju humor. We had hide-and-seek, poker (which I slept out), the rakhi ceremony, lots of amazing food and home-made desserts, tree-climbing, picnic lunch in our backyard, movie-watching, and more amazing food. 🙂

A slideshow of a few pics is below (click through to the post if you can’t see it in your RSS reader).

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