Annaprashan Sanskar

Annaprashana Sanskar is when a child starts to eat solid food in the sixth month. Annaprasanna Sanskar is a ritual that marks an infant’s first intake of food other than milk. The ceremony is usually arranged in consultation with a priest, who suggests an auspicious date on which to conduct the ceremony. The ceremony is usually carried out when the child is about 6 - 7 months of age. The mother or grandmother will prepare a small bowl of payesh (boiled rice, milk and sugar) which is blessed in a brief pooja. The child will generally be held in the mother's lap, and a senior male family member (grandfather or uncle) will feed it a small spoonful of the payesh. Other members of the family then take turns to give the child a taste.

The feeding ceremony is often followed with a game, in which the child is presented with a tray containing a number of objects. These will include a bangle or jewel (symbolizing wealth), a book (symbolizing learning), a pen (symbolizing career) and a clay pot or container of earth/soil (symbolizing property). The child's future direction and prospects in life are indicated by the object which it prefers to hold and play with.

The significance of the Annaprasana Sanskar is to wean the child at a proper time. It is not left at the impulse of their parents who often injure their children by overfeeding them without taking into consideration their digestive capacity. The feeding ceremony also warned the mother that at a certain time she should stop suckling the child. The ignorant mother, out of love for her child, goes on suckling it up to a year or more. But she little realizes that thereby she allows her own energy to be sapped away without doing real good to the child. A timely caution was given by the ceremony for the benefit of both the child and the mother.