Janeu is a consecrated thread that is worn by each and every Hindu Brahmin of India. This holy thread of 'Janeo' suggests the development of a male, from a young boy to a man. It is believed that a boy cannot be surmised as "Dvija" (twice born) until he wears the janeu. Besides the Brahmins, Janeo thread is also worn by the Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The type of Janeu is different for different caste groups or sects of people of the Indian subcontinent.
One is Brahmgandh Janeu (with 5 knots or 3 knots), which is meant for
Brahmins and the other is Vishnugandh Janeu (with one knot), meant for
other classes. In case a Brahmin desires to become scholarly in the
Vedas, he must wear janeu at 5 years of age. If a Kshatriya desires to
gain strength, he should wear janeo at 6 and if a Vaishya desires for
success, he must wear the Janeu at 8 years of age. Janeu is generally
made of cotton thread; however Kshatriya and Vaishya wear threads made
out of hempen and wool respectively.
Janeu (Thread) Ceremony
Brahmins celebrate the development of a boy through "Upanayanam
Samskara" (sacred thread ceremony). The ceremony is generally
observed between the ages of seven and fourteen. In case the ceremony
could not take place due to any reason all through this age period, then
it is required to be done before the marriage. The purpose of thread
ceremony is to prepare a young man to share the responsibilities of
elders. The thread is worn by the man in the company of a group chant of
'Gayatri' mantra. The thread is twisted in upward direction to make
certain that 'Sattwaguna' (good quality of truth) prevails. The ceremony
also suggests that the wearer of 'Janeu' can participate in the family
rituals, from now onwards.
Significance of three strands in Janeu
Brahmins use 'Janeu' thread with three strands. These three strands of
'Janeo' have been studied many a times and different personalities gave
several opinions regarding this tradition. To some people, the three
strands stand for the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Others
interpreted it as symbolical of Mahasarasvati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali.
Many people believed it to be related with past, present and future.
A number of persons stated it to be representative of three qualities -
sattva, rajas and tamas. A few considered the three strands as sign of
three states-wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. Some of them mentioned
it to signify three dimensions of Heaven (swarga), Earth (mrityuloka)
and Nether Regions (pataloka). Out of all opinions, the most logical is
janeu's account with Ida, pingala and susumna nadi, through which the
'kundalini' (hidden) energy reveals in 'prana' and realization.
How to wear Janeu at different occasions
Janeu is a not an ordinary thread, its sanctity is regarded to get
disturbed if it is not worn properly. Here are given different methods
to wear Janeu at different occasions.