Annaprashan Ceremony is a social festival of the Hindu community. Annaprasana is one of the sacred rules and regulations of other social activities. Annaprasana or feeding the first rice to children is called Annaprasana. Annaprashan is a special festival of Hinduism. The word ‘food’ means rice or food and ‘prashan’ means eating. Therefore, the first meal of the child is considered as food.
Every family organizes this festival after the birth of a child. However, if the child is a boy, it is celebrated for 4 months or 5 months and if it is a girl, it is celebrated for 6 months or 8 months. This festival is celebrated in the presence of parents and family members and relatives. On this occasion relatives are invited through invitation letter. Invited relatives also give their blessings and gift items in active presence. Such a custom of feasting has been observed for a long time.
The baby is also named on the day of the feast. On that day, the family members also organize a special event. Relatives invited to the festival wish the child good health and longevity and bless the child with gifts. Meals are performed at home according to social customs and can also be done especially in a temple or religious places. Although it is customary to hold this ceremony in a completely religious environment, it has come down a lot nowadays. But its social and familial significance is still observed to exist.
Babies are usually breastfed till the age of 6/7 months and after that the babies are given solid food gradually. This time is a special time for parents and family which is considered as a traditional festival of Hindu society to commemorate the days of childhood which is celebrated with a ritual called Annaprashan.
Procedures for celebrating Annaprashan Ceremony
Annaprasana is one of the most popular rituals in Hindu society. Feeding means starting the baby’s first meal of rice or food. Basically, the practice of giving solid food to the baby gradually from only liquid food is started. This feast is one of the most common rituals in India, which is celebrated in our state of West Bengal with rice in the mouth, in the state of Kerala in Charu, in Himachal Pradesh and also in different states. After this auspicious meal, children are made to eat only heavy foods instead of milk.
How is the Annaprashan ceremony prevalent?
The feeding program specifically marks the next stage of a child’s growth. If we go back to the mythological era, it can be seen that this ritual has been performed all over South Asia since then, such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, later Bangladesh, but also the people of Russia and Paris.
According to the family and social culture, the Annaprashan ceremony is performed depending on the place of residence and environment of the people. This ceremony is done with the child’s age hire. According to the social norms, this ritual is performed within a certain period of time, such as not less than 4 months of age and not more than 6 months of age.
There are also rules for Annaprashan ceremony according to the traditions of different places. According to the social custom, in almost all the societies, the family of the child gathers on a special day and arrangements are made for food and hospitality. Some people organize this event in their own house and some people organize this event in big pandal or event building. An auspicious day is fixed for this ceremony where the priests / scholars begin the meal in the active presence.
Nowadays, food rations are celebrated in the same way in rural and urban areas. The people of the village float in their homes with pandals and various decorations and illuminations. Similarly, people in urban areas decorate the festival in their own buildings or in different buildings of the city. Again, someone goes to the monastery and performs this episode through the puja festival.
With the youngsters present here, the families enjoy the day of the ceremony with much joy and that day is known as a special memorable day. To commemorate the occasion, one celebrates the event for two days instead of one, where the schedule is much longer and the number of guests is higher.
How is the feeding method done?
The feast is the only one in the family with whom the process of giving the first meal in the child’s mouth begins with this joy and excitement. Where the child is placed in the lap of close relatives such as uncle (mama, kaka) grandfather (dadu) very close to the child. Then everyone present at the first meal of rice or hard food in the baby’s mouth is interested to see. What a moment of bliss this is.
The invited guests present at the time gave the child many gift items such as clothes, toys and baby food dishes, glasses and other items. After this one of the rules of eating begins which is – a large plate is placed in front of the child, 6/7 types of ingredients are placed in that plate. Pots, books, pens, gold ornaments and food items are arranged one by one in that dish.
The baby is placed in front of those tools and the baby has to touch any one of the objects. The elders think that the future of a child is determined or indicated based on a hypothetical basis if the ignorant child touches any one he does not know.
Let’s see what the elders say – if the child touches the ground, he is caught, he will gain wealth, fame and property. If the child touches the ground, it is believed that he will gain wealth, fame and property.
1/ If the child chooses a book, he will be highly educated.
2/ If a child touches gold jewelry, he will be a rich and wealthy person.
3/ If a child holds a pen, it means that he will be a wise and prudent person.
4/ If he takes food in his hand, it means that he will be a kind and calm person.
What kind of food is given to the baby during Annaprashan Ceremony?
On the day of the feast, the child is given a variety of foods and the list of soft and mouth-watering foods is kept. Of these, the food of different states is different. Here is some food list of Indian Bengali culture-
1 / Biryani / Rice / Polao etc.
2 / Many kinds of fish-meat curry
3 / puri / fried / pulses / vegetables
4 / Payes / Khir / Sandesh / Sweet
In addition, the vegetarian Bhuji family lists all of these shots except fish.
The practice of giving milk / paise in food is most seen.
Latex or pudding is a very good food for baby. In particular, sweets are prepared by adding rice sweets which are taken as soft food for the baby. In the same way, this sweet national food is given a lot of priority in the list of heavy foods in the country and abroad. According to the mythological tradition, this latex or payes food is fed in pure silver or copper-casa containers.
How to keep food safe during the meal?
It is very important to take some precautions while giving the child the first hard / heavy food in the mouth. The elders often advise in this regard are as follows-
1 / It is not necessary to feed only milk / milk to your child. You can give many more healthy foods as you like.
2 / In the first day’s program, the child should be given food as per the instructions of the elders so that the child’s food does not become infected.
3 / It is important to check the health of the child before eating. No rituals should be performed on the sick child.
Finally, we say that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the child healthy and safe on the day of the child’s celebration. These programs were often banned during the Corona period, but are now being resumed after the Covid19 infection has subsided. Yet we did not say the rules of this epidemic. Now almost people are very careful and cautious in this case.
And for all of us to accept these few warning messages, the events will be successful and enjoyable.
Some Following Rules of the Ceremony
Moreover, in order to perform this ritual, we should follow some of the following rules.
1 / Hand sanitized hands should be fed to the child, otherwise the child can be infected very easily.
2 / Allow your child to rest or fall asleep before the start of the meal reform so that the child does not feel uncomfortable during the program.
3 / The process of feeding the baby Choose a place with light and gentle breeze so that the baby can relax. Gathering more people in a closed room can reduce oxygen levels.
4 / Social distance must be observed. So that the atmosphere of the ceremony is more sweet.
5 / Give your child soft and cotton clothes. If it is not good not to wear any kind of jewelry and ornaments, the child may feel uncomfortable in the body. And if it is winter season, sweater can be worn.
6 / If food falls from the baby’s mouth during eating and drinking, clothes or body becomes dirty, then keep a towel or cloth nearby which can be cleaned immediately.
7 / Try to keep the child away from lamps / lamps / incense sticks and fire during special yajna so that no obstruction can form.
8 / Arranging special places for the children to sit nearby, so that the children can be busy in the image of any sport and can not go out.
9 / It is advisable for the invited guests to enter the house by sanitizing while entering the house.
10 / You can bring a photographer to make this Annaprashan Ceremony event memorable or you can capture the day of the event with the camera.
All the parents hope that the process of feeding will be beautiful and well done and this event will be remembered forever with the blessings of relatives and wishing a bright future for the child.