Customs and Religious Practices


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Ashwalayana Grihya Sutras :
The sage Ashwalayana known for his celebrated work Ashwalayana Sutras was a disciple of the great sage Shaunaka of the mythological fame, whose name is appearing in the Puranas as a contemporary of Suta Puranik, the disciple of the Great Master, Maharshi Bhagawan Vedavysa. When the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins are the followers of the Ashwalayan Sutra there is nothing wrong in our taking Ashwalayana as one of our earliest Acharyas.

The Scope :
By the word "sutra" we mean a formula and "grihya" domestic, and a sutra is always brief so that it will be easy to remember and memorise besides acting as a commandment. This book contains 4 chapters or Adhyayas, 54 paragraphs or Kandikas and 760 sutras. The first chapter has 24 Kandikas and 315 sutras, the second 10 Kandikas and 124 sutras , the third, 12 Kandikas and 123 sutras and the fourth and the last one 8 Kandikas and 198 sutras. Before taking up the sutras for a detailed study we must remind ourselves that we have to go back in the stream of time may be 5000 years when there were no temples and idols. The family was an important unit of the society and the mankind was yet to know that centuries later there would be a thing called match-box to carry in the pockets to generate fire any time when one wished. 

Simple Folks :
Those days people were very simple, god-fearing, large-hearted and their vision and approach to life was very positive and noble. They were very compassionate and helpful and they had profound knowledge, both mundane and spiritual. They had quite a few domestic ceremonies during the change of seasons and in their own hearth and home they used to worship God by making offerings in the flames of fire. There were occasions when they performed sacrifices outside the villages and they used to perform animal sacrifices also to ward off evil spirits or for fulfilling their desires. This however was not a regular feature but only occasional. Their favourite deity was Agni and in a few places Lord Shiva was invoked. Lord Vishnu is not a prominent deity though his name appears in the "tarpana" ritual.

Family :
When we say that the sutras are for the benefit of the householder, definitely the welfare of the family is borne in mind in every action and deed. Therefore, marriage, conception, child-birth, naming ceremony, giving solid food to the child for the first time after its birth, first hair-cutting, upanayan, sending the "vatu" to the 'gurukula' for being educated, re-entry into the family after education, house construction, repair, maintenance of the house periodically, agriculture, journey by chariot, funeral services and rites, annual shraddha ceremony for the dead etc, are the essential contents. While we go through the book we will be wonderstruck that consciously or unconsciously without knowing their back-ground or intricacies we follow them even to this day.

The Present Status :
Every boy in our community is initiated into Brahma Vidya-Upanayanam or munji as we call in the commoners' language, however indigent he might be. This is celebrated on the same pattern as was done thousands of years ago. The yajnopavita or the janwa that is put on, on this occasion will become a part of our personality till the end of the life, although many do not know its exact significance. As in the past, the child will be named on the twelfth day after its birth and we still believe in the ancient institution of pitras to whom shraddhas are offered once in a year. On the thirteenth day of a person's death, we take it that he will ascend to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu only after the son performs the prescribed rites. The 'mangala sootra', a special ornament by which the bridegroom sanctifies the vow of marriage with the bride at the time of marriage, is still the most sacred ornament to our ladies even in this age of fashionable ornaments. Our ancestors believed that Guru is the personified Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara unified and to this day we consider the worship of our Gurus is the salutation to the trinity.

Conclusion : 
Ashwalayana Sutra is a good document that tells more about the personal religion practised privately within the four walls of the house than the society that was in the process of constant change, definitely with a view, approach and philosophy that a strong family is the building block of a strong society which in turn can make a strong nation. At least in this respect there are no two opinions. Then should the husband and wife not love each other even in the modern age? The Sutras of Ashwalayana have a great relevance in this respect and definitely they will remain so even in the future. But the unfortunate aspect is that to-day we do not have amidst us the competent teachers or the priests to tell us the significance of the rituals ordained in the sutras to appreciate them better.

Wedding Ceremony Photographs :

Wedding means beginning of household duties, since the beginning of our civilization. Bride at the mill stone as a part of the ceremony


The Bride is ceremoniously led to marriage hall by maternal uncle in traditional way

Panigrahan and Saptapadi - Seven Steps as taken 5000 years ago

Lajya Homa as conducted 5000 years ago


Traditionally tying the wedding knot ceremoniously


Newly wed at wedding reception - a new trend in our culture


Tradition continues even beyond the seven seas
A GSB Wedding in US



“Gurbini Kappad”, the first pregnancy ceremony, the present version of Ashwalayana’s Seemanta Ceremony.

Blessings at Husband’s by Mother-in-law. 

Blessings at Mother’s by the Mother. 
(First Delivery at Mother’s)

Naming and Cradling Ceremony on the 12th day of the child’s birth at Mother’s 
but done by Mother-in-law (child’s paternal grandmother jointly 
with the maternal grandmother) :

Felicitations and blessings to the newly become mother first by Mother-in-law and then by the Mother. (In the picture here by the Mother) Cradling Ceremony: A pleasant task for
 both the grandmothers. 
(Baby: Master Tanmay)

First outing to the new baby after three months :

A visit to the temple and thereafter to
 father’s abode

Birthday Celebrations :

Boy or Girl, a child is God up to and inclusive of 5 years. (Birthday is being celebrated every year till the 5th birthday with the traditional arti to the child and nowadays with a cutting of a cake also. Children from the neighbourhood are being invited - Child: Master Shrikrishna) Baby Navya and Master Tejas in the costumes of Lord Krishna as a child. (Recalling the childhood pranks of  Lord Krishna  is the essence of birthday celebration)


Upanayanam and Gayatri Mantropadesh starting from the age of  8. (Master Mahesh)