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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.