The beautiful tradition of Sanatan Dharma prescribes 16 samskaras (or rituals) marking the life of a Jiva (soul) from conception to death. In part 1 of this article, we saw the first 4 of these 16 sanskars which mark the life of the soul from conception until birth. The main purpose of these rituals is to cultivate positive qualities, purifying the soul, leading all the way to self realisation. These important turning points in one’s life are marked with celebration. Let us look at the next 5 rituals in this series which are performed after the birth of the child.
5. Naamkaran (Naming the baby) – Performed on the 11th day of the birth of the child, a proper name is given by the learned brahmins, and vedic mantras are chanted. Janampatrika is also prepared based on the position of the planets and nakshatras at the time of the child’s birth. The infant is bathed and dressed in new garments.
6. Nishkraman (First Outing) – In the fourth month after the birth of the child, he is allowed to be taken out of the house for the first time. He is taken to the temple for the Lord’s darshan. This is when the baby formally meets the world for the first time. He is granted darshan of Panchmahabhut (Five elements) and prayer is performed for the well being and health of the child. Specific prayers are offered to the Sun and the Moon.
7. Annaprashan (First solid food) – Performed in the 6th or 7th month, when the child’s first teeth show up. The child is offered the first solid food (usually rice and ghee) and prasad mantras are recited. Sweet porridge with curd or honey can also be given.
8. Chudakarana (First HairCut) – Also called mundan, this is when the child’s hair is cut for the first time, done after the first year. Sometimes, a tuft of hair is left to cover the soft spot near the top of the baby’s head. The hair is offered at a holy place and mantras are chanted for the long and healthy life of the child. This is also a baby’s cyclical step to hygiene and cleanliness.
9. Karna Vedha (Earlobe Piercing) – This is an optional ritual usually done around the 3rd or 5th year when a child’s ears are pierced. Besides ornamentation, it marks a child’s socialisation and cultural emersion. This is a symbolic reminder to the child of beauty and social presence as he grows up and the importance of hearing the wisdom of the vedas.