Annaprashana is one of the most significant samskaras, an ancient Hindu ritual that marks the child’s first intake of solid food. The word “Anna-prashanna” is a Sanskrit word, and it literally means “grain feeding.” Since this is the first time that the baby will eat solid food, the event is celebrated by family, relatives, and friends.
The ceremony takes place when the child is ready to switch from milk to solid food, so it usually happens when the child is 6 to 9 months old. The moment may vary, but it is important that the ritual is not held for a baby younger than 4 months or older than 1 year. To choose an auspicious date for the ceremony, the family consults a Hindu priest.
The traditions are different in every family, but the main goal of the ceremony is the same: the family and the Hindu priest pray to the Gods and recite the Vedic Mantras to bless the child with good digestive powers and a healthy, successful and long life. During the ceremony, they give the child a few spoons of sweet rice (rice pudding), and five pranas (life air) are invoked to sustain the body. The family and relatives also offer some presents for the infant.
Some families prefer to perform the Anna-prashanna at a temple, while others like to have a more intimate connection with the child, so they hold the ceremony at home. In general, during the ceremony, the baby is wearing beautiful, traditional clothes.