Upanayana or the thread ceremony is performed anytime between the ages of five to eight years old.
Upa mean ‘approaching towards’ and Nayanam means ‘leading’. In this sanskāra the child is given the yajnopavit (sacred thread), which is made from three strands representing the three letters of AUM.
The three strands also symbolize the three discipline of life, which are knowledge, action and devotion. Most importantly, they symbolise the three main duties or responsibilities that an individual has to uphold for the rest of his life, until Sannyasa Ashram.
They are: Duty to The Supreme and Nature (Deva Rin), Duty to their Guru or teachers (Rishi Rin) and duty to one’s parents (Matri-Pitri Rin).