Rites of Passage * Initiations * Pūjās * Abhisheka*
The ritual world of Vaidika differs greatly among regions, villages and individuals. However, the common thread uniting them is the understanding that all that is here is sacred.
A detailed series of life-cycle rituals (samskara, refinements, rites of passages) mark major transitions in the life of the individual.
The Vaidika way of life perceives each element of an individual’s life as sacred and worthy of worship and celebration. Thus, from the moment of birth, intake of first food, writing of first letters, till marriage, and death, every life event is associated with sacredness, worship, and celebration. Even in death, wherein people always mourn, it is recognized that the journey of the jivatma has not ended and the death rites aim to aid the jivatma to regain new birth and continue its journey further. Thus, even the Death Rites are sacred and have utmost importance in the Vaidika scheme of things.
Samskaras, or Vaidika Rites of Passage, according to the ancient sage Panini, are the ornaments that decorate one’s personality. They mark the important stages of one’s life and enable one to live a fulfilling life, complete with happiness and contentment. They pave the way for one’s physical and spiritual journey through this life. It is believed that the various Vaidika samskaras meticulously lead to a purification of one’s ‘papas’, (vices or faults), and even correction of physical deformities. The Upanishads mention samskaras as a means to grow and prosper in all four goals that a human being can have: These goals, or Purushartha are: Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (work and pleasure) and Moksha (freedom).