TheJanehu/Upanayanamceremony is a very important tradition among the Brahmins. After theNamkaran(naming) ceremony, it is probably the next biggest occasion for the Brahmin boy. This ceremony marks the boy's entry into studies. The Upanayanam ceremony takes place when the boy is around 7-8 years old. A sacred thread, calledYagnopavitamis placed around the left shouder of the boy. This thread is a composite of 3 threads, signifying Goddesses Gayatri (thought), Saraswati (word) and Savitri (deed) respectively. There is also a knot in the middle that signifies the unending Brahman. A head priest whispers theGayatri Mantrainto the boy's ears, and he is formally initiated into education. After this, the boy is supposed to tie the thread around his ear whenever he passes urine, so as to avoid getting it into contact with the excretory organs and thus getting contaminated. The thread is also changed once a year on the occasion ofShravani Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Shravan. This is also known asAvaani Avittamin Tamil, and coincides with theRaksha Bandhan or Rakhifestival of North India. The below photo shows Brahmins taking part in the thread changing ceremony. Well, so much so for the religious part of it. But what is the factual meaning behind this Janehu/Upanayanam ceremony? Let us explore. Though the fact about keeping the thread pure by avoiding contact with the excretory organs is understandable, there is a hidden meaning in this practice. It is a scientifically proven fact that a vein passing through the ear regulates the flow of urine. Therefore, when the boy wears the sacred thread around his ear while passing urine, he is unconciously helping his urinary system to regulate the urine flow, thus keeping his urinary system, bladder, etc. healthy and free of problems. Further, we should take into account the fact that the Brahmins of olden days did not lead a very active lifestyle (i.e.) they were mostly conducting Pujas, where their primary role was to be seated and chant Mantras. In this scenario, it would have been difficult to keep their kidneys in top-shape. This is why this alternative system of Yagnopavitam (sacred thread) has been formulated. This practice is not something that is to be done away with, as there are chances of this problem being carried on down the generations. This practice of Yagnopavitam can also be carried out in other castes - after all, keeping our urinary system healthy is not caste specific, right? So why is this Janehu/Upanayanam ceremony not done for girls? Well because they have other ways of regulating their urine flow.