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The twice-born ceremony refers to a religious ceremony where a Hindu undergoes a form of second birth. This involves purifying a person from previous offenses to transform the person into a new human being who fears the Supreme Lord. The most striking aspects about the ceremony are the leading characteristics that emerge. These include symbolism, forgiveness, and the extensive recital of mantras and hymns. Markedly, I am intrigued by the speculative and definitive nature of these characteristics.
A leading attribute of the twice-born ceremony is forgiveness. The boy undertaking the ceremony seeks to purify himself from the faults of speaking, eating and acting at will. What is striking is not the act of seeking forgiveness but the reasons as to why the boy is seeking forgiveness. He seeks forgiveness because of speaking, eating and acting at will. Ideally, this means that the boy cannot eat, speak or act as he pleases, even when he is hungry or in need of expressing himself. This seems more like an enslaving religious rite, which instead of nurturing the inner soul, demoralizes it. In addition, the ceremony performer seeks to remove the offenses of the nine sacraments, among them the prevention of miscarriage, impregnation, male production and parting a pregnant mother’s hair. This is highly speculative because the boy is not responsible for the offenses committed during the impregnation and the other nine stages.
Symbolism is also another leading characteristic of the ceremony. The ceremony associates wearing “abundant” clothes with faultlessness or purity. While reciting the “You Clothes” mantra, the performer of the ceremony puts a white and then a reddish brown cloth on the boy. The symbol of cloth is speculative in nature because one cannot tell what the wearing of “abundant” clothes means. It could mean establishing better connections with the deities, learning more about religion or something else. However, for the better part, symbolism has a definite meaning. For instance, while conserving the initiation, the mantra “my vow” is employed with the mediator’s hand on the boy’s heart. This signifies that the deity of the mantra commits to the boy.
Extensive Recital of Hymns or Mantras
The boy is expected to recite 12,000 gayatris and recite the gayatri hymn about ten times. This also goes for saying the “Scared thread”, “Agni purify”, “Prajapati”, “Shavasva”, “Splendid clothes”, “Fuel of Agni” and other mantras. I have chanted repeated mantras during my yoga training to garner concentration. Considering that yoga is derived from Hinduism, the same concept applies to the mantras and the repeated recital of hymns in this ceremony. By chanting the “mental powers” mantra, the boy is able to concentrate and connect to Agni, the deity. He is able to seek mental power and the power of sense from the deity. “The instructions of drawing near” mantra helps the boy to reconnect with God O Savitr and plead with him to hasten his understanding. To consecrate the staff, the performer of the ceremony uses the “well-being” mantra to garner concentration and connect to Vishvedeva, the deity that makes the staff “proper” by assuring them of their well-being.
Essentially, what strikes me most about the twice-born ceremony leading characteristics is the inclination for some of them to be definitive while others are speculative. Forgiveness is speculative due to the inconclusive reasons given for seeking forgiveness. Extensive recital of hymns and mantra are definitive in nature. They help to improve on concentration to enable the Brahmins or Hindus to connect to the deities. However, although the symbolism employed is definitive, it is partially speculative especially when using the cloth to signify faultlessness. This shows the speculative, yet definitive nature of the twice-born ceremony.