We all know how newborns must be taken care of with utmost caution and attention, especially during the first 8-10 months. They must be safeguarded against any kind of infection, which is why they are fed on only mother’s milk for the first few months, which is considered the healthiest food for them.
Every child has to undergo a few rites and rituals as per the beliefs and customs of the religion the family belongs to. Of these rites, ‘Annaprashana’ is one of the most important ceremonies. One of the most significant moments in a baby’s life is when he or she transitions from liquids to solid food. Believing it to be a grand affair, this phase of the start of having solid food is widely celebrated across the Hindu community in a ceremony called ‘Annaprashana’. Regarded as one of the most important rituals, the Sanskrit word ‘Annaprashana’ means eating food (‘Anna’ meaning food and ‘prashana’ meaning eating). Because it is the first time a child consumes solid food, it is considered a very joyous affair by the entire family, relatives, and friends. This ceremony is majorly seen in the Bengali and Malayali communities, and is usually arranged in consultation with a priest, who arranges an auspicious date to conduct it. You can approach MakeMyPuja Pandits to arrange for the most religiously and appropriately conducted Annaprashana for your baby.
The ceremony of Annaprashana dates back to the Vedic period, and is believed to be of Indo-Iranian origin. Therefore, this ceremonial feeding is found in both Indian and Parsi cultures. As per the ritual, the ceremony is usually carried out when the child is 6 to 8 months old – with odd months for girls, and even months for boys. This is when the teeth have begun to appear, symbolizing that the baby is now ready to digest small amounts of solid food. In this ceremony, the child is weaned away from the mother, and is made to eat solid food that acts as a substitute for the mother’s milk. It could be boiled rice of rice kheer
, which is first offered to the Gods and then fed to the child by the maternal uncle or grandfather. The Gods are invoked and offered the food to seek blessings for the child so that all his senses are gratified, and he can live a happy contented life. People pray to God for the health, longevity, and prosperity of the child before giving him food. After the maternal uncle or grandfather gives the child some food, other members also join in the ceremony to feed the child and shower blessings upon him. Also, the priest performs a Puja
for a healthy and auspicious start of the child’s new phase.
This ceremony cannot be held before the child completes 4-5 months as he is not capable to digest food until then. Also, it cannot be conducted after 1 year because by the 9th
month, the mother’s milk may have diminished causing the mother’s body to take up some amount of weakness. Therefore, the best time range for this ceremony is between the 6th
month so that both the child and mother can remain healthy, and adapt to the new phase of feeding. However, if the child is week, the ceremony can be postponed up till the 10th
month, but not later than that.
So, consult your doctor to understand which would be the best time for having your child to start consuming solid food, and get in touch with a priest to let you know the most auspicious date for your child’s Annaprashana. Whatever it is, don’t delay this ceremony for after completion of your child’s first year.