Annaprashan is a great ceremony that marks the introduction of solid food to your new born baby. ‘Annaprashan’ is a sanskrit word which is also called as Onnoprashon in Bengali, Annaprashana vidhi, Anna-prasanam or Annaprasan. It lietrally means ‘initiating grains’. In this post, you will come across all that you need to know about the Annaprashan ceremony.
Which month is Annaprashan?
This ceremony can be celebrated at any time between the 6th month and the baby’s first birthday. For baby boys, it is usually held in the 6th or latest by the 8th month as they need to start solids soon to get all required nutrients for the growing body. For a baby girl, it is usually celebrated in the odd months which is the 5th or 7th month. It is also the time when little teeth begin to appear.
What is the procedure for Annaprashan?
In earlier days, people used to call a priest home who would perform the rituals at home or they would go to any famous temple for a Pooja. But, these days usually people prefer to book a banquet or a party hall and a family priest is called over to perform the rites and the rituals. The Annaprashan ceremony is usually celebrated on a chosen auspicious day and time suggested by the family priest.
What should we do on Annaprashan?
The rituals of annaprashan varies from family to family, region to region. In West Bengal, sweetened kheer is offered to the baby. Oil lamps are lit specially for the puja and the feast is laid on out a beautiful cloth. Silver bowls, plates are spoons are used to feed the baby’s first solid. First the uncle feeds the kheer and then all other elders feed the kheer and bless the baby. a special fish dish is also served on the occasion.
Among Malayalis, the feast is laid out on a banana leaf and is blessed by the priest. A sandalwood paste pottu is applied to the baby’s forehead.
In other places, the food bowl is first blessed (patra puja). Then the meal is prepared and given in holy sacrifice in front of holy fire. Next, the child is fed with the payasam. There may also be a charity in the end of the ceremony.
What should we keep for Annaprashan?
Sweetened rice dish like kheer or payasam is usually the star dish of the annaprashan ceremony. For savory taste, dal is usually prepared. Curd, jaggery, salt, banana, veggies, dals, and curries are some other preparations that are served in the feast.
For the guests, you may serve the same food or pick another menu which you like. For the pooja, you will need items like, ghee, honey, kheer, tulsi leaves, ganga water etc.
The Annaprashan game
After the family members have fed the baby, a few items are placed in front of the baby. it is believed that what the child chooses represents his/her interest in their future life.
The objects are books, clay, pen, food, money or jewelry.
- The baby that chooses the money or jewelry will be wealthy.
- The baby that picks the pen will be wise.
- The baby that picks the book will yearn for knowledge.
- The baby that chooses the clay will own the earth with many properties.
- If the baby chooses food, he will be charitable and feed the hungry.
Tips for a successful Annaprashan:
- Make sure that your baby has had proper sleep before the Annaprashan ceremony begins.
- Preferably feed your child before the prayer so that he does not get hungry in between and can stay comfortable through the prayer.
- Dress the baby in comfortable wear.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before feeding the baby.
- Make sure that the baby’s food is cooked in neat and hygienic surroundings under the supervision of a family member.
- Have an equally good spare dress ready for the baby to change into if food spills.
- Keep some hand towels handy to wipe.
- Make sure two or more favourite toys of your baby are around.
- Make sure that the baby is away from fire and smoke. You can leave the doors and the windows of the hawan/puja room open to let the smoke out.
- Just feed a few spoons as over eating new food may result in a tummy upset of your baby.
- Make sure that there is space available for the baby soon after the ceremony to sleep if the baby wants to.
- Plan the ceremony during the time when the baby is usually up for the baby to enjoy the ceremony.
- Hire a photographer so you can enjoy the ceremony without worrying about recording the occasion.
For the invitation, cards in the shape of a bowl and spoon or a pot look very cute and apt for the ceremony. If you are planning return gifts, a small basket of dried fruits or sweets is a great idea. You could also give a small bowl or cup engraved with the baby’s name.
Food plays a very important role in all our lives. It nourishes us and gives us strength. The beautiful annaprashan ceremony, which marks the first food intake, can be seen across many cultures around the world in different forms. We hope your baby has a fantastic annaprashan! Let us know about your unique rituals in the comments below!