Childbirth is the most miraculous and beautiful creation of nature. When a child takes birth it is considered to be the most auspicious occasion in a family. To celebrate this happening and to ensure a peaceful and happy lifecycle of the new member, Hindu mythology has created many sanskaras. Let’s have a detailed look at the rituals followed.
Jata means origin or bring into existence and Karman means action or activity. So, Jatakarman refers to the birth rite of the child. This is mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in verses 6.4.24 to 6.4.27 which describes the rite of passage. To eliminate the defects in the foetus, and to liberate the child from any kind of bad karma from previous life.
These rituals are completed within a week of the birth of the child and sometimes on the 10th day. The baby is first welcomed to existence by the father, by touching the baby’s lips with honey and ghee. Certain Vedic hymns are also recited in order to create positive vibes in the soul of the baby. The first set of hymns is explained in Gryhasutra which is done to initiate the baby's mind with intellect in the womb of the mother and the second part of the hymns is done to wish the baby a long life.
When a child is born, the fire is prepared, child is placed in the lap and then a mix of Dahi and Ghrita kept in a metal jug is poured into the fire. At the end of the ritual the father gives the baby to the mother's breast for feeding.
This is done to bring prosperity and longevity to the child.
It is performed on the tenth or the twelfth day after the child’s birth. In this sankaram worship of Lord Ganapati, Punyahavachan, Matruka deities and Nandishraddha are done. At first the infant is given bath and dressed up with new clothes. Then the name which has been decided for him is given to him by a holy priest. The priest chants certain hymns and asks God for its approval. A social gathering is also followed by this activity where friends and relatives come to give their blessings to the child.
This is done to bring wealth, success and honour for the child. It also asks for a longer and easy lifespan.
This sanskar is performed in the third month after birth on the same date as the date of. The baby is made to look at fire, a cow and the moon at an auspicious time. The ishtadevtas are worshiped for this ritual and offered sandalwood paste, rice and flowers. Mantras are chanted and the child is held on the lap by his parents and other relatives to give the blessing of security. After this Lord Shiva is worshipped by making the child sit on a heap of food grains smeared with cowdung. Hymns are chanted and Prasad offered to Mahadev.
This sanskaram is done to ensure good health and an efficient lifestyle for the baby.
This occasion is celebrated to offer the child his first intake of food other than milk. A priest performs certain rituals on an auspicious day and the child is made to have food. The ceremony is carried out when the child in the sixth or the eighth month in case of a boy and the fifth or any month with an odd number in case of a girl. It is proposed feeding the child cooked rice mixed with ghee, or with honey, curd and ghee. Lord Ganesh, the Matruka deities, Svastivachan, and Nandishraddha are worshipped for this sanskaram.
The child should be placed to one’s right on a white cloth placed on the mother’s lap, in front of the deity facing the east and should then be fed food for the first time. Food should be put in a gold or bronze vessel and the holy hyms should be recited. After the child has had its first mouth fill he should be placed on the ground.
This sanskar is performed in order to attain longevity, strength and radiance. Entry of the sattva frequencies from the universe through the Brahmarandhra is facilitated by this ritual.
This is the first haircut for the child and is customarily performed when the child is about one year old. The child’s hair is shaven and only some hair known as the Chula is kept on top of the head. The removed hairs are then offered to a river. The importance of keeping a small portion of hair is that it acts as an antenna to collect all the positive frequencies of the universe.
It is done to open the inner ears of the child for receiving sacred sounds which in turn will cleanse all the sins and nurture the spirit.
It is an ear piercing ceremony that occurs in the third or fifth year for some children of Hindu parents usually Brahmins. It can also be performed in later years. This is considered to be one of the sixteen major Samskaras (Shodasha Samskaras) during the course of their lifetime.
Nowadays the Chudakarana and Karnavedha are done together as Upanayanam (thread ceremony).
In Hinduism when a person dies he is said to be free of all the moh maya. We the Hindus prefer cremation along with many rituals than just burying the body. Since ages it is believed that after death people attain Samsara, i.e. Salvation. Hence, the rituals to be followed after death are considered to be extremely important.
Vedic Rituals after death are as followed.
Antye??i is a Sanskrit word where antya means “Last” and i??i means “Sacrifice”. It refers to the funeral rites for the dead. It is mostly known as “Antima Sanskar”. The procedure of antima sanskar solely depends on region, gender, caste and age of the dead.
Everyone knows that a living being has a soul and a body. The person is declared dead when the soul leaves the body. The body is said to be composed of 5 elements according to Gita – air, water, fire, earth and space. This ritual of antima sanskar is performed so that the body returns to its origin that is the five elements. The hymns are noted down in the RigVeda.
This act of antima sanskar is completed within a day of the death of the person. At first the body of the dead is washed properly and then he or she is wrapped in white cloth (if the dead is a man or widow) and red cloth (if the woman’s husband is still alive), the feet are tied together with a string and then tilak is placed on the forehead. The body is then carried to a place near the river or any water body called the samashan ghat and in the presence of family and friends he or she vanishes into the flame.
The cremation rites are performed by the person’s eldest son, or the closest male member or the priest. The person who leads all the rituals first takes bath, then circumblates the body with dry wood, recites hymns, places sesame seeds and rice in the bodies mouth and then sprinkles the body and surroundings with ghee. He draws three lines depicting Yama, Kala and the dead. An earthen pot is filled with water which the lead person carries in his shoulders and circumblates around the dead body. He then drops the pot near the head of the body. The body is then set on fire and in between a ritual is followed known as kapala kriya where the burning skull is pierced with a bamboo fire poker to make a hole. This is done to give space for the soul to release itself. After the ritual all the people present there take bath in the river to wash off all the remnants. At some places the male members shave their heads and face as well. The cold ash is then collected in a copper or earthen vessel and consecrated in the holy river.
This is a ritual followed after the holy cremation of the body. It is believed that the soul can depart for heaven after performing Nirvapanjali. In this ritual the dry ash of the body which was collected after cremation and stored in a vessel is taken to a holy water body and consecrated there by the close relatives. This is said to have its origin from the incident where king Bhagiratha performed a tapasya to bring down the river Ganges upon earth, so that he could immerse the ashes of sixty thousand of his slain ancestors in her sacred waters.
Pind Sammelan is also known as Spindi. This is a ritual which is followed on the 13th day after the death of a person. People believe that when a spirit departs from the body it at first gets negative in order to fulfil the wishes he could not when he was alive. After this ritual the soul is said to be cured from all the dissatisfactions and hence freed from the earthly happiness. Finally the soul attains salvation.
This is considered to be a ritual to show your affection to the departed soul and pray for their peace. In this act the closest relatives make a sacred offering to God so that the soul may enter Swarga. Tarpana is also referred as Arghya where an offering is made to all the 5 devtas and Navagrahas. Some perform Tarpana by using water and Sesame seeds during Pitru Paksha which is known as Tilatarpana.
This ritual has its origin from the story, ‘The great Parsurama offered tarpana to his father Jamadagni with the blood of his father’s killer’.
Usually tilatarpana is done by the male members of the family to their ancestors. This offering is started at the completion of one year of the death of the person. Day like annual sharddhas, new moon days, sankramanas, and eclipses are also taken into consideration for Tarpana. It is also made while visiting pilgrimages or holy places.
At first a sacred thread known as Yagnopavita is to be worn on the right shoulder and a sacred ring made of grass is worn on the ring finger of the right hand and horizontally in the left fingers. Then we must take care of the posture of our hands. This varies according the Devas, sages and ancestors you are making offerings.
It is believed that the ancestors eagerly wait for offerings from their descendants on such occasions. If the offerings are not given then they tend to get disappointed and hence the descendants are not able to receive the blessings.
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