What does annaprashan mean?

Annaprashan is derived from the Sanskrit word, which means, "eating of the grain". It is the baby's first rice eating ceremony. It is known by different names in different states and countries. In Bengal it is known as "mukhe bhaat or mama bhaat", in Kerala it is known as "choroonu" and in the Garhwal hills it is known as "bhaatkhulai". It is a very popular ceremony of the Hindus. Annaprashan brings a new enjoyment in baby's life. From this day the baby start to intake the solid food. Now onwards the parents of the baby started to introduce other food into the baby's diet. However, this ritual differs from culture to culture.

Why is annaprashan performed?

This ceremony is organized in many families to include the solid food into baby's diet replacing the liquid one. This is organized when the baby attains six months or seven months. Generally, in Hindu custom when a girl child attains seven month and the boy child attain six month the family organize this ceremony. It is said that annaprashan for girl child is held in odd months and for the boy child in even month.

Where can one perform the annaprashan?

This occasion can be organized at home or some people arrange in the temple. However, many parents wanted to celebrate it in a grand way and as such they hire a hall, community centre or even those who have enough space at home they prefer to arrange it at home only. But before organizing the party one must contact a priest who will help in the rituals.

How it is performed?

anna prashan1

This ceremony cannot be performed in any day. Before planning for this occasion, one must consult with the priest who will help to find the particular date and time for the rituals. On this day, the baby is dressed in new clothes and jewellery. The family member organizes a special puja. The brother of the baby's mother called "mama" feed the first food into baby's mouth. On this day, friends and relatives are invited to the give blessings to the baby.

Many games are also organized for the small children who can enjoy this day. The family member for the baby also arranges a special game. Many items such as books, pen, money, jewellery, food, toys etc are kept in a large tray or banana leaf and placed in front of the baby. From these items, the baby picks any item. Whichever item the baby will pick in the hand it is said that he/she would have interest for it in future. Everybody encourage the baby in this game.

What kind of foods is cooked for the baby during annaprashan?

Different types of food are cooked and offered in front of the baby. However, as a Prasad, "kheer or payesh" made with milk and rice is served compulsory. The baby is first feed this kheer and enters into the solid food. In Bengal beside "kheer", they also cooked dal, rice, meat, fish, vegetable fries, sweets etc. These are served in front of the baby. Especial arrangement of foods is prepared for the guest who arrives in this occasion.

Tips for safe annaprashan.

  1. Here I am sharing few tips, which will help the baby to enjoy this special occasion.
  2. Parents must be careful about the rest of the baby. The baby should take enough rest before the occasion.
  3. Try to invite only close friends and relatives. Too much crowd can overwhelmed the baby.
  4. Try to choose light clothes for the baby. If it is summer, then prefer to choose only cotton clothes and in winter protect your baby with warm clothes.
  5. Keep in mind that before feeding your baby one must wash their hands properly.
  6. Try to maintain the hygiene. Cook baby's food in neat and clean place.
  7. Keep a towel or handkerchief in front of you to wipe your baby's mouth.
  8. Do not force the baby to eat. Try to feed the baby little food as too much of eating can make your baby uncomfortable.
  9. If you organize, "sacrificial fire or havan" make sure that you keep your baby far from the fire and open the doors and windows to allow the smoke to pass out easily.
  10. Arrange some interesting games for the children so that they will not feel bore.
  11. Arrange some return gifts for the children, which will make children happy.
  12. Do not forget to click photographs and record the moment.

Image source- Wikipedia

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