Chapter

The Thread of Life

Arthur J. Magida

in Opening the Doors of Wonder

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245457
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941717 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520245457.003.0017
The Thread of Life

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This chapter explores the Hindu rite of passage upanayana, or the sacred thread ceremony as it has been celebrated in America, recounting the ceremony of Ajay Kumar, who lived in Lanham—a Maryland town a few miles north of Washington, D.C. Getting the thread is the first stage in Ajay's religious life. However, according to Ajay, the ceremony was “cool,” since it was the most exotic rite of passage that anyone who attended Ajay's middle school in Gaithersburg, Maryland, had ever seen. Upanayanas initiate boys into their faith and their caste. It's the sacred thread ceremony's link to the caste system that discourages many Hindus living in the West from having one. The chapter also presents discourse on whether girls should be allowed to participate in upanayana.

Keywords: rite of passage; upanayana; sacred thread ceremony; Ajay Kumar; Hindus in West

Chapter.  4997 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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