The literal translation of Annaprasana (Sanskrit: अन्नप्राशन, Annaprāśana, Bengali: অন্নপ্রাসান, Onnoprashon) is anna = rice and prasana = to enter. Annaprasana means introducing solid food to the child, i.e. feeding rice or solid food for the first time. After this ritual is carried out, the child now can be introduced to different foods. Annaprasana is done after the ‘Namakaran’ ceremony, and is considered auspicious because the baby can now have solid foods.
Basically the first rice-eating ceremony, in India, Annaprasana is celebrated across the length and the breadth of the country, called ‘choroonu’ in Kerala, ‘mukhe bhaat’ in Bengal and ‘bhaatkhulai’ in the Garhwal hills.
When Is Annaprasana (अन्नप्राशन) Done?
Annaprasana is held when the child is around six months and before he turns one and also when the child is ready to convert his diet from liquid to solid. For boys it is held on even months like a sixth or eighth month and for girls it is held during odd months like fifth or seventh month. As per the Grihyasutras, Annaprasana sanskar should be performed when the child is between six and seven months old, and not at all younger than 4 months.If the child is weak, the ceremony can be performed later. However, this ceremony must be completed before a child’s first birthday – as it is not wise not to feed the child solids till then. A child who has sprout his first set of teeth is ideal as it signifies that the little one’s stomach is ready to digest the food.
Where Is Annaprasana (अन्नप्राशन) Done?
Annaprasana is held at a temple or at home, a priest is called to conduct the ceremony and he recites religious rites and prayers and even a ‘havan’ is performed on this day, then the elder family member or child’s father then feeds the baby with the first solid food which is generally made of rice, ghee and sugar or jaggery. In some cultures, a rice pudding known as Kheer is fed to the baby.
Common Annaprasana (अन्नप्राशन) Offerings
After this is done a fun filled game is held, certain objects are kept in front of the baby where each resembles or signifies something to do with the baby’s future. It is believed that the first object which is picked up by the baby symbolizes the baby’s future. So the objects that are placed are:
- A pen –symbolizing wisdom
- Some books – representing knowledge
- Gold – symbolizing wealth
- Some soil or clay- means property
- Some food – representing the love towards food
The baby is then encouraged or cheered to go and pick one of the items. Many jokes are cracked and many aspirations are formed. It is a proud moment for the parents as the baby has completed his transition from being an new born to and infant. The ceremony is then followed by lunch or dinner for family and close friends.
How To Celebrate Annaprasana (अन्नप्राशन)?
Here are a few tips so that the baby has a fun time with family and friends
- Make sure your baby has enough sleep before the ceremony or have it in the morning after baby’s bath
- On this day the clothes worn by your baby should be soft and comfortable. Avoid clothes with gems and stones, embroidery or thread work. Dress according to season
- To avoid crowded environment invite your close family and friends only
- Make sure you have enough baby wipes or handkerchief with you all times to clean your child’s face, hands or clean the tilak on forehead to avoid it going in the eyes
- Strict hygiene must be followed like washing hands before feeding your baby and food should be freshly prepared
- Do not over feed your child with sweets or other foods since it is the first time he/she has been introduced to solid foods. These foods can be heavy on the stomach and may cause indigestion
- Keep windows and doors open for ventilation
- Keep a separate room for your baby to play or rest when he/she is tired
- Ask your mom or any close relative whom your child knows or recognizes to help you out when you’re not around your child
- Keep your child’s favorite toy handy to cheer him when he cries or is down
Read more about introducing solids to your baby here
Annaprasana (अन्नप्राशन) Dates 2016
Click here to know the auspicious dates for performing Annaprasana Ceremony in 2016.