Kumar was preparing for his initiation along with some other boys from his class.When that day arrived,his mother and sister plastered the courtyard of their home with a fresh layer of clay mixed with sacred cow manure.Cows were holy,and their manure mixed with clay purified the space needed for the special ritual.(Many harmful bacteria do not grow in cow manure,so this practice actually did keep things clean.Grass fibers in the manure did something else,too,it made the plaster of the walls stronger.)Kumar's family built small,square fire altar in the center of the courtyard with four rectangular fired bricks that his mother and sister also plastered with clay and manure.
When everything was ready,Kumar's father and two other priests brought out the special tools to kindle the sacred fire.One man held a wood plank,and a second man held a wooden drill.Kumar's father pulled back and forth on a cord wrapped around the thick wooden drill,so that the drill tip pressed into the wood board.After a few turns,the tip of the stick rtarted to smoke,and soon the charred wood powder that built up in the hearth began to glow.One of the priests blew on the glowing embers and added a bit of dry kindling soaked in butter until the sacred fire－Agni－sprang to life.
Once the fire was going,Kumar's father recited a hymn to Agni,inviting the deity to the altar to receive the sacrifice:
May your offerings,oblations,directed to heaven
Come forth with the butter ladle.
Agni goes to the deities,seeking their favor.
Having been called,Agni,sit down for the feast.