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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Shaarav’s Mundan (or Head Tonsuring) Ceremony

Shaarav with Mommy & Daddy before his Mundan!

Finally, we were able to organize the Mundan or Head tonsuring ceremony for Shaarav at 16 months. I am not a blind supporter of customs and rituals and have an open eye to superstitious beliefs; I believe when traditions do no harm to us there’s no need to oppose them uselessly. In our culture, Mundan or Head tonsuring ceremony of a child has been considered an auspicious ceremony apart from Chhatthi, Annaprashan, and Marriage irrespective of a girl or boy child.

Mommy and Daddy are busy distracting him!

We had a very fun and enjoyable Mundan ceremony as Shaarav took the ceremony very gaily and did not cry one bit during the procedure. But it did take a lot of distractions and cajoling. Shaarav was the one to enjoy the most. He met new people, interacted with them and even played with them. Shaarav with his friendly and inviting nature was a delight to watch and the centre of attraction for all guests. He kept the guests entertained with his baby antics and kept the ambience very light and fun. All the guests had a good time, enjoyed a good meal and showered Shaarav with happy blessings. So all together, the ceremony was a success.

 All about Mundan Ceremony You Need To Know

“Mundan ceremony” or “Mundan Sanskaar” is a popular Indian tradition where a child’s hair is shaved off completely. Some strongly believe that shaving the child’s head and offering it to the Gods get rid of the evil presence surrounding him and purifies the soul and body, removing any past karma or negativity and blesses the child with good health, long life and prosperity. Well, though I find it amusing and I do not believe in it.

Shaarav with his Mommy & Daddy after his Mundan!

The ceremony is usually performed during the first or the third year of a child’s life (basically the odd years). But we did Shaarav’s at 16 months because the basic ritual was performed when he was just a few days old (during his Chhatthi ceremony) and this was just a formality.

Still, for performing the Mundan ceremony, an auspicious day and time “Mundan 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. The priest was called upon (in our case it is called a “Paahan”) to perform all the necessary rites and rituals. We preferred to celebrate it at home so that Shaarav could be comfortable and take his timely nap without a fuss.

Daddy dearest getting Shaarav ready for his big day!

On the day of the ceremony, Shaarav was bathed and made to wear new clothes. At the scheduled time Shaarav was then made to sit on his Naanu’s lap (Shaarav’s maternal grandfather) which he obliged happily. The barber began shaving off his head slowly, part by part and Shaarav’s Bua (Shaarav’s aunt and Mr. Husband’s sister) collected his hair. The collected hair is supposed to be disposed of in the holy waters, but I plan to save a small piece of his locks for his record book (grinning!).

Shaarav getting his head shaved without any fuss

Even with the utmost care, Shaarav sustained some minor nicks and cuts from the shaving for which a paste of curd, turmeric, and sandalwood was generously applied to his head for soothing and healing. Sandalwood is known for its cooling properties, while turmeric is antiseptic, thus helps in the healing of any cuts and bruises.

The reasons why I decided for Shaarav’s Mundan

Apart from the cultural and religious custom, I decided to go for the Mundan ceremony for other reasons which are as follows:

1) The summer is approaching and just like his Dad Shaarav too sweats a lot. His head is especially hotter compared to the rest of his body. So I found this to be an opportune time to get his head shaved since it helps in keeping the child’s body and head cool during hot seasons like summer.

2) Shaarav was born almost bald at the front while he had some hair at the back of his head. And to our surprise, his hair was brown in colour when nobody in our family has it. Though there is no scientific evidence to prove it, but with my own personal experience, I believe that the hair after shaving grows back fuller and healthier.

He looked so cute!

My tips for a safe and smooth Mundan

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 and is at ease.

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

3) Baby should be surrounded by known faces so that he does not become fidgety and jittery and remains calm and comforted to avoid any serious cuts.

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

5) The shaving equipment should be new, clean and sterilized to avoid infections.

6) Keep warm water for wiping baby’s head.

7) Keep a paste of curd, turmeric, and sandalwood ready for applying to the head after shaving for soothing and healing.

Mundan ceremony holds a sacred and significant place in a child’s life in our culture. Though I chose to perform it for other reasons apart from religious and cultural, I made sure the ceremony went well without hurting anybody’s sentiments including mine. And who doesn’t like a fun family get-together? Shaarav’s Mundan ceremony has proved to be just another excuse to meet relatives and friends and enjoy a fun-filled day.

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

Shaarav with his Naanu & Daadu

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