Celebrating sibling love through the festival of Rakshabandhan

Plantable Eco-friendly Rakhi!

We went eco-friendly this Rakshabandhan celebrating the festival with a 100% biodegradable Rakhi. This plantable Rakhi is made from hand-made paper, natural colours and, seeds which can be planted in the soil after the festival is over to grow plants of Tulsi and marigold. This is just a small gesture towards the Mother Nature, which also gives me a reason to share a beautiful little story of the festival which is very close to my heart.

We are four sisters and a brother. My youngest sibling (my baby brother) is twelve years younger to me. For very long I didn’t have a brother. Twelve years is really a long time, don’t you think? The sister immediately younger to me is just two years younger. So for a few years not having a brother didn’t make much of a difference. It didn’t really matter if I had a brother or not until I was seven years old. In our craft class at the school, we were being taught how to make Rakhi using silk threads and a brush and were being told the story and the significance of the Rakshabandhan festival. I, as a kid, was so intrigued and fascinated by it that I terribly wanted to have a brother of my own. Moreover, looking at other girls with brothers and listening to their plans for the festival was making me long for a brother even more.

That day, when I returned home, I was particularly sad and my mother sensed it immediately. When asked, I narrated her the entire incident that happened at the school. She laughed it away and helped me with my art & craft homework, which was to prepare Rakhis for display at the exhibition. The Rakhis that we prepared turned out really beautiful and I was very proud of that.

But Rakshabandhan being just 2 days away, I was still whining for a brother, and more so when my prepared Rakhis won the best Rakhi in the whole class. But, on the day of Rakshabandhan what my mother did for me was super duper extraordinary and will definitely blow away your mind (Well, it did mine!). My mother dressed my baby sister, who was 1.5 years at the time, as a boy and asked us to tie her the same Rakhis that we had prepared for the exhibition (My mother had converted Bably to Bablu for the day just for me). And the cherry on top of the cake was I even got a present for the Rakhi as a custom. And my happiness knew no bounds. Life is so simple when we are kids, isn’t it? And little happiness means so much. I wish life could be so much simpler now.

For 3 more years, I continued to tie Rakhi to our Bablu and later to Dably turned to Dablu. It was 1.5 years later that I got my actual brother. And the first Rakhi I celebrated with him was when he was just 5 months old and could barely sit. He just kept staring and drooling all the time unaware of what was happening with him. But that one Rakhi is still the second most memorable of all Rakhi I’ve ever had so far, the first will always be the one with my Bablu! Nothing can ever beat that one!

Rakshabandhan celebrations with my brother.

Traditionally started as a way of brothers swearing to protect the sisters as they tied the Rakhis on their bothers’ wrists, I am so glad that modern day Rakshabandhan has evolved so much. It doesn’t need to be just a brother and sister festival anymore according to its modern version. And why do we need a brother to protect a sister when a sister can do the job equally well, and sometimes even better. It is only sensible that way don’t you think?

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

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Shaarav’s Annaprashan (First Rice-eating) Ceremony

Happy parents to this adorable infant on his Annaprashan

This was about last year on the same day when we performed the Annaprashan or First rice-eating ceremony for Shaarav at 6 months. Annaprashan holds a special place in the Indian customs and marks the introduction of semi-solid food to the baby. Annaprashan symbolizes the beginning of weaning the baby off breast milk (or formula milk). Some families organize it on a large scale, but we did it just with the close family and friends.

We all know how each first-time is important in a baby’s life. But what marks the biggest milestones of firsts is the tasting of solid food for the very first time. And we as parents had an exciting privilege to witness the event as we celebrated the occasion with family and friends.

Though Shaarav began sitting at around 5 months and began showing interest in our food around the same time, we still waited for him to complete 6 months before introducing him to solid food. Before that, we weren’t even giving him water and he was exclusively breastfed. So to watch his reaction when he first tasted the solid food was just priceless. It marked a big milestone in both Shaarav’s as well as our lives.

Thaali preparation for the Annaprashan

All about Annaprashan Ceremony you need to know

“Annaprashan ceremony” or “Annaprashan Sanskar” is a popular Indian tradition which celebrates a child’s transition from breast milk (or formula milk) to solid food. It marks the beginning of weaning the baby off breast milk by introducing him to semi-solid and solid foods. Once the baby has his Annaprashan, he can slowly and gradually be introduced to a variety of other weaning foods following a three-day rule.

The ceremony can be performed between 5th and 8th months of a child’s life when the child is ready to make the transition from a liquid diet to a semi-solid or solid diet. Most of the families usually organize it after the completion of 6 months around the time when most of the babies are able to sit with support and have begun to show interest in food that we eat.

Shaarav in a traditional attire with Mommy & Daddy

For performing the Annaprashan ceremony, an auspicious day and time “Annaprashan Muhoorat” was decided upon. I emphasized that day to be on a Sunday so that all the guests could grace the occasion without much hassle. We celebrated the function at home so that Shaarav could be comfortable and take his timely nap without a fuss.

Maama applying Teeka on little Shaarav seated on his lap

On the day of the ceremony, Shaarav was bathed and made to wear new clothes. On occasions like these, we prefer to make him wear ethnic clothes to add up to the occasion. Before the rituals began I decorated the table with a flower flanked by ‘Swastik’ on either side in ‘Roli’ where I kept the prepared ‘Thaali’ (bronze plate). The Thaali was prepared by making a Swastik on it in Roli. The Thaali contained flowers, Roli, ‘Akshat’ (rice grains), ‘Kheer’ in a silver bowl with a silver spoon, a bronze glass with a silver spoon, a bronze ‘Lota’ with mango leaves in it, ‘Poori’ and sweets. Kheer is a sweet dish prepared with rice in milk which is offered to the baby as the first food. Kheer is chosen for the baby’s first food since it is prepared with milk and is considered holy, pure and apt for any auspicious occasion.

Maama offering Kheer to Shaarav in a silver spoon

At the auspicious time, the ceremony started with Shaarav being made to sit on his Maama’s lap (Shaarav’s maternal uncle). Maama is the one who is supposed to feed the baby with the first solid food. Thankfully Shaarav is very fond of his Maama and he sat on his lap very comfortably. His Maama then applied some Roli Teeka and Akshat on his forehead and purified him by sprinkling some holy water on him from the Lota with the help of mango leaves.

Naanu and Daadu taking turns to feed Shaarav and his expression in this pic is just priceless!

Then Shaarav was offered Kheer from a silver bowl with a silver spoon and Poori. Silverware is particularly used for the ritual since the metal is regarded as the most positive of the body. Following this, his Naanu (maternal grandfather) and Daadu (paternal grandfather) took turns to give him Kheer and he ate it making funny faces (giggles!). Later Shaarav was gifted with some gold jewellery, silverware, clothes, toys and lots of blessings as other family members took turns offering him food one after the other.

Naanu playing with Shaarav to keep him calm and entertained

My tips for a safe and smooth Annnaprashan

Our ceremony went very smooth and we sailed through it without any hurdle. But it did need a bit of caution, planning ahead and preparation. Here are some tips which can help you sail through it safely and smoothly just like we did:

1) Prefer the location of the ceremony to be your home so that the baby is acquainted with the place.

2) Limit your guest list to just close family and friends to prevent the baby from getting overwhelmed.

3) Dress the baby in comfortable clothes with soft fabric and no or little embellishments.

4) The baby should be well-fed and rested before the beginning of the ceremony.

5) Baby should be surrounded by known faces during the ceremony so that he does not become cranky and remains calm and comforted.

6) Keep toys or pacifiers ready and handy for distracting the baby.

7) The food offered to the baby should be freshly prepared in hygienic conditions and should be fed after washing the hands thoroughly.

8) The utensils in which the food is offered should also be washed properly and sterilized.

9) Keep a small towel or handkerchief handy for wiping baby’s mouth or to clean up any spilled food.

10) See to it that the baby doesn’t eat more than a few spoonfuls of food to avoid an upset tummy or indigestion.

Shaarav getting gifts on the auspicious occasion

The Significance of Annaprashan Ceremony

Annaprashan ceremony holds a sacred and important place in a child’s life as it signifies a marked change in his life’s journey. Annaprashan ceremony celebrates the significance of food as it provides nourishment to our body and plays a significant part in our lives. And yet again Shaarav’s Annaprashan ceremony proved to be just another excuse to meet relatives and friends and enjoy a fun-filled day. To read about Shaarav’s Mundan ceremony click here.

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

The smiling faces tell the story of the fun and happy Annaprashan we had

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