Hindu samskaras are a series of sacraments, sacrifices and rituals that serve as a rite of passage, marking important events at different stages of an individual’s life. These samskaras are not mere formalities of social observances, but to purify the soul at vital junctions in life’s journey.
Such important events generally include pre- birth ceremonies, birth ceremonies, life ceremonies, funeral ceremonies and even after- life ceremonies. In Sanskrit the word samskara literally means, “making perfect” or “refining,” and so a samskara is a ceremony of refinement, which is to say, refining or raising an individual beyond his or her mere physical existence and marking a higher spiritual existence. Samskaras bind an individual into his or her social group.
In Hinduism, as with most religious cultures, samskaras are sacred ceremonies performed with the help of a priest and in the presence of family and friends. Traditionally there are sixteen samskaras,. In practice, however, there are only about eight samskaras that are regularly performed. This number varies from family to family and from region to region. Be aware that there is a lot of regional variation, and how a ceremony may be performed in one community may vary a lot from how it is performed in another community