In Hinduism, Hindu males at age 12 belonging to the upper three castes undergo the ritual of upanaya, receiving a sacred thread to indicate their status as ‘twice born.’ Not unlike the Christian Confirmation or Jewish Bar Mitzvah, this ceremony contains both cultural and spiritual significance.
When I lived in India from 1987-89, it seemed that many upper caste Hindus held a considerable amount of disdain for lower caste individuals. But from my perspective, the lower castes, in general, seemed far more attuned to the spirit than the higher caste ones. There were exceptions on both sides, of course. But the whole setup seemed even more desperately wrong and gridlocked than the class-based discrimination still found in the West.
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