Avani Avittam, also called ‘Upakramam’ or ‘Avani Attam’ is a traditional ritual usually celebrated in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Maharashtra. It is an important festival celebrated by the Brahmins who read the Holy Book Yajurveda. Like Raksha Bandhan, it is comes on the auspicious day of Shravan Purnima.
Avani Avittam Rituals:
On this day Brahmins take a holy bath and wear a new sacred thread called ‘Janeyu’ or ‘Yajnopavit’. They take an oath or ‘Mahasankalpam’ for confession of all their sins in the previous year.
To begin with, they chant a prayer, called ‘prayaschita’, to apologize for their sins. It is like this: “To remove all my sins and subsequently obtain divine blessings and making myself qualified to carry out the necessary duties of Brahmanas as prescribed within the Vedas and Smritis and accepted by the really good in their conduct, I put on this Yagnopavita”.
While wearing the new thread they recite a mantra, which means: “I wear the holy thread that is extremely pure, is indivisible from God, is capable of extending life and is the most important in the achievement of a Brahmana. May such pure Yagnopavita bring strength and dignity”.
Another mantra that is recited while removing the old thread, which means: “I throw away the broken previous thread, may the new one induce long life and Brahmana’s brilliance”.
Avani Avittam Significance:
The word ‘Upakramam’ literally means “the beginning”. That is, on this day the Brahmins begin to read Yajur Veda that will continue for next six months. It is an auspicious day because as per legends, it was the day of incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Lord Hayagriva, the lord of knowledge, who reinstated the Vedas to Brahma.