Monday, November 23, 2009
Shivalli Brahmin males have undergo Brahmopadesham
Shivalli Brahmin males have undergo Brahmopadesham (Upanayana in Tulu ) when they turn seven years old, to initiate them into Vedic studies. The key ritual during the Upanayana is that of putting a Janivaara or sacred thread across the left shoulder of the boy. The Janivaara consists of three threads made of cotton. The boy, once initiated, is called a Dwija or twice born and is expected to perform japa or sandhyavandana at least twice daily. Shivalli Madhwa Brahmins also follow the Upakarma ceremony where the janivaara is changed and mudradharana is done. Mudradharana is a ritual where signs of Lord Vishnu's symbols (Mudra) like conch (Shanka), chakra (wheel) are etched on bodies. This is done by placing hot metal moulds of these symbols mainly on the hand and stomach.
There are no equivalent ceremonies for Shivalli Brahmin girls. In fact, although North Indian Brahmin women take part significantly in the ritualistic process of Hinduism, Shivalli Brahmin women have no important role in these ceremonies. They have no religious education, and no rite of passage into adult society other than the rather dubious role in a marriage arranged by their parents. The reasons for the marked difference between women's role in Brahmin culture amongst other groups (which is quite limited in itself) and the Shivali Brahmins has been a source of much debate. It is currently thought that the lowly role amongst the latter was due to an attempt at maintaining line purity by the first Shivali Brahmin men who migrated to the South and married local (non-Brahmin) fisher women.
The Shivalli Madhwa brahmins have rituals from birth to death at every stage of their life. Some claim the traditions and rituals followed by Shivalli Madhva Brahmins have scientific reasons to them worthy of research.