The full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Shravan (August – September) in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and is some parts of Orissa is observed as Upakarma. In 2013, date of Upakarma is August 20. Gayatri Japam is on August 21. It is a highly auspicious day for the Brahmin community. The sacred thread worn by Brahmins known as ‘Yagnopavitam’ is changed on this day. The ritual is also referred as Shravani. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala it is known as Avani Avittam.
There are Brahmins who are the followers of Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda. The followers of Rig Veda change the thread a day after Shravan Poornima and followers of Yajur Veda change the thread on Purnima day. Therefore the day is also known as Rg Upkarma (Rig Upkarma) and Yajur Upkarma. The ritual is also known by the name of Upanayanam or Upanayana. The sacred thread Yagnopavitam is known as Jandhyamu in Telugu and Janivaara in Kannada.
The Brahmins who follow the Sama Veda follow it three days after Shravan Amavasi.
Legend has it that Lord Hayagriva, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the head of a horse, got back the Vedas stolen by the Asuras (Demons) on this day. Upkarma means ‘the beginning.’ After a holy dip in a sacred river or pond or Tritha, Brahmins change the sacred thread and wear a new one. Symbolically the ritual means a new beginning. Students also begin the study of the Vedas on this day.
The day after Upakarma, is the day for the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra.
North India does not have the annual ritual of changing the sacred thread.