Annaprashan is a great ceremony to celebrate the introduction of your new born baby to solid food.
‘Annaprashan’ is a sanskrit word which is also called as Onnoprashon in Bengali, Annaprashana vidhi, Anna-prasanam or Annaprasan.
It refers to the first rice eating ceremony of your little bundle of joy.
In this post, you will come across all that you need to know about the Annaprashan ceremony.
Annaprashan – Introducing your baby to solid food
When is the Annaprashan Ceremony held?
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 the teeth begin to appear.
Where is the ceremony performed?
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.
How is the ceremony performed?
The invitations are sent out to close family and friends.
The baby is dressed in a traditional wear such as dhoti kurta or lehenga choli.
The ceremony begins with a detailed Pooja or Hawan which is kept to shower blessings and happiness on the new born.
The Prasad of this Pooja is fed to the baby as the symbolic first solid feed.
This hawan is then followed by some fun games.
In one of the games, some objects are placed on a banana leaf or a silver plate.
The objects include books, clay, pen, food, jewels/money.
It is said that whichever object the baby picks up from the tray represents the baby’s interest.
The books represent learning, the jewels/money represent wealth, pen symbolises wisdom, clay symbolises property and the food represents the love for food.
Now, the baby is allowed to go closer to the objects and pick one or many of his/her interest.
Whichever, object/s he or she chooses, are predicted to be the area of the child’s interest in the future.
What is the baby fed in Annaprashan?
The rice pudding or kheer is usually fed as babies have a sweet tooth.
You can also feed some well-cooked rice with watery dal to the baby during Annaprashan.
Most people call for an elaborate celebration and serve a nice platter of Indian cuisine to the guests followed by deserts.
How to plan for Annaprashan in advance?
- 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 such as cotton and avoid any heavy costumes with beads, stones, and mirror work.
- 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.
- Keep a change ready just in case the baby messes up the clothes.
- Keep some hand towels handy to wipe.
- Make sure two or more favourite toys of your baby are around.
- Keep the ceremony limited to a few close friends as babies get uncomfortable in large gatherings.
- 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 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.
Annaprashan is one of the most widely celebrated ceremonies in the modern times. This entire transition of feeding solid food to the baby for the first time holds a lot of significance in Hindu culture.
Some people also make sure that the first morsel is fed to the baby with a silver spoon as it symbolises immense luck, fortune and wealth for the entire life.
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