Every milestone achieved by the little one brings joy to the parents, similarly introducing solid food to the baby who was exclusively breastfed calls for a celebration. And this occasion is celebrated among the households of the Hindu community as Annaprasana. This is the seventh sanskaras out of the sixteen sanskaras in the Hindu community.
Annaprasana which is also known as Annaprashan is known by different names in different parts of India, chooran in Kerala, Bhaatkhulai in Garhwal hills, Mukhe Bhaat in Bengal.
Annaprasana Ceremony is usually celebrated after the ‘Namkaran’ event. It is performed during any even months for boys, normally in the 8th or 6th month of childbirth, whereas for girls, it is performed during the odd months such as 5th or 7th month.
But it is also important to check for cues from the newborn, that he or she is ready for solid foods. The cues that your newborn is ready for solid foods are
Annaprasana Ceremony is usually performed as a small gathering in the house, few parents also book a banquet hall to perform the ceremony with great pomp and show, others also choose to perform the ceremony in the temple. In Kerala, many of the parents go for performing the Annaprasana Ceremony at Guruvayoor which is a famous Hindu temple. If people think to perform the ceremony at home, then they usually contact the priest for helping them with the religious rites to complete the Annaprashan ceremony.
As we all know, food plays a very important role in everyone’s lives as it nourishes and gives us the strength to carry on our day-to-day activities. This ceremony respects the significance of food and the beginning of its consumption. It is believed that half of the success has been achieved by the baby the day it starts having food properly. Hence, this ceremony should be performed in an auspicious manner with all the step-by-step rituals.
An auspicious day and an auspicious time are selected to conduct the ceremony. The first food offerings are made to God. Babies are dressed up in new clothes, usually traditional clothes such as Dhoti Kurta for boys and Lehenga Choli for girls. The baby is seated on the lap of his/her maternal uncle who feeds the baby his/her first bite of food. All the guests who have arrived pray for the good health, happiness, and longevity of the baby and offer him or her their blessings.
This religious event is followed by fun games where many of the symbolic objects are placed on a banana leaf or any silver tray that the baby can pick up. Those objects comprise of –
Family, as well as friends, wait for the child to pick a particular object and are excited about which object the baby will pick up. They all have a fun time cheering the little one when he/she is making a choice. It is believed that the baby picking any of the objects will represent his interests in future life.
On the day of Annaprasana, turmeric paste is applied to the baby after which the baby is given a bath. Alpona, which is a liquid paste of rice and water is painted on the floor where the ceremony is taking place. Rice, spinach, five kinds of fried vegetables (brinjal, potato, ladyfinger, pumpkin, and pointed gourd) vegetable curries, chutney, sweets, sweet curd, and lemon are offered to the baby on a bronze or silver plate. The maternal uncle of the baby feeds the baby on his lap with kheer.
The baby is seated on the parent’s lap and a banana leaf filled with various dishes which is blessed by the priest is placed in front of the baby. A paste of sandalwood known as chandanam is applied to the baby’s forehead. The baby’s father dips a gold ring in each of the dishes placed on the banana leaf and touches the same to the baby’s tongue. The same is followed by the mother and a few choose family members. This ceremony ends in thulabaram , wherein the baby is weighed against an offering to be made to the lord, the offerings can be rice, coins, any food grains, coconut, and so on.
Different varieties of food are served to the plate of a child, but the star of the ceremony is the sweetened rice kheer. Sometimes mashed rice with ghee with some cooked dal is also given to the baby. Few also choose to have a grand Annaprasana Ceremony celebration and serve pulao, vegetables, fried rice, to the guests who have come to give their blessings to the child.
This is a simple kheer recipe exclusively for your baby, you can add in other ingredients like saffron, dry fruits and condensed milk to be served to the guests but after keeping the baby’s portion aside.
Rice is usually a part of all religious ceremonies. The white color of the kheer made from rice is seen as a symbol of purity and divinity. In almost all the community kheer is the first food fed to the baby, and hence is an integral part of the Annaprasana Ceremony. This special kheer which is prepared by either the mother or grandmother is fed to the baby in a silver vessel.
Here are a few ideas and tips to give you and your baby a special time to enjoy through their Annaprasana Ceremony safely.
It is the old age tradition of evaluating a good muhurat before beginning any auspicious task. For finding the correct Annaprashan or Annaprasana Ceremony muhurat, gaining knowledge of time, planetary position, date, and Nakshatras of the baby are important. Beginning any necessary Annaprashan activity after knowing the appropriate muhurat brings you lots of success.
Calculations of the muhurat are evaluated by using the online Annaprasana Ceremony calculator or by going to astrologers and priests who know to read Vedic panchang.
It is considered that Shukla Paksha is best for Annaprasana. You can also consider tithis like Prathama, Tritiya, Panchami, Saptami, Dashami from Krishna Paksha. Bhadra tithi is very inauspicious for this occasion.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are considered auspicious whereas Sunday, Saturday, and Tuesday are avoided.
If cruel planets are present in Ashwini, Rohini, Mrigshira, Punarvasu, Uttarphalguni, Uttarashada, Uttarabhadrapada, Hasta, Chitra, Swati, Anuradha, Abhijit, Shravan, Dhanishta, Revati and birth nakshatra they should be prohibited if there is no malefic influence these Nakshatras are good for Annaprasana.
Venue or place to celebrate Annaprasana Ceremony differs from one group of people to others. Earlier this custom was done right at home. Now people do not wish to create a mess. And so, they go to rent a venue for an Annaprasana Ceremony and celebrate a grand party. In some of the places, this is done in two days. The first day of Annaprasana Ceremony is taken for all types of rituals and the second day is where they treat the guests to a variety of food delicacies.