Four veda vratas
After the vEdArambham ceremony, the AchAryA starts teaching the vEdic lessons. Each vEdA is divided into portions called kANDas काण्ड. Each kANDa is devoted to a Rushi who is the presiding diety of the kANDa that is being learnt. So each student is expected to observe a “vrata” or a vow during each kANDa. This is called “vEdavratam वेदव्रतं”. It involves offering libations of water(tarpaNam) and oblations (hOmam) to all the Rushis connected with the specific kANDa.
While the annual upAkarmA and utsarjana ceremonies are performed for the beginning and termination of the annual vedic semesters, this vrata is peformed once in the beginning of the kANDa – “kANDOpAkaraNam काण्डोपाकरणम्” . Then the kANDa is learnt and when all the lessons of the kANDa concerned are over, “kANDa samApanam काण्ड समापनम् ” vrata is performed again in the end. During the interim period of the vrata, the student adheres to stringent rules like not eating before touching water, until he has put the wood on the fire, not carrying an umbrella, etc. So there are 2 vratas for each kANDa.
The four vEda vratas for the 3 vEdAs are as follows:-
|vEda||kANDa vrata 1||kANDa vrata 2||kANDa vrata 3||kANDa vrata 4||kANDa vrata 5|
|kRuShNa yajur vEda||prAjApatya||saumya||Agneya||vaishvadEva|
Each vrata is started on an auspicious star in the shuklapaksha period i.e. the bright fort night of the uttarAyaNa kAla.(corresponding to approx.jan-june). It is performed in the forenoon. The vratas are observed throughout the period of the respective kANDa. Some of them are kept for 3 years or some for 1 year.
Outline of the 4 vratas for kRushNa yajur vEdis according to Apastamba sootram:-
kRuShNa yajur vEda is divided into 7 kANDas. The authority for the 7 kANDas are four Rushis namely prajApati प्रजापति, sOma सॊम, agni अग्नि and vishvEdEva विश्वॆदॆव; hence the name prAjapatya kANDa vrata, saumya kANDa vrata, Agneya kANDa vrata and vaishvadEva kANDa vrata.
First prAjApatya vrata is started and tarpaNam and hOmam is performed for prajApati kANDa Rushi and then utsarjanam procedures are performed in the end. Then the next kANda vrata is started and repeated in the same manner. But if it is not possible to perform these vratas one after the other, then an alternative procedure called the “samAnatantram समानतन्त्रम् ” is advised in the sootram, where all the 8 vratas can be peformed at one go. Nowadays we see that the samAnatantram समानतन्त्रम् procedure is followed in the morning before the wedding or a day before the wedding.