When a child is born into a Hindu family, Jatakarma is performed to welcome the child in the family. Honey is put to the baby’s mouth and the name of God is whispered in the baby’s ears. At the time of marriage, a prayer is recited to fulfill parental obligations called garbhadana, meaning conception. A ceremony called Punsavana (protection of foetus) is performed for the strength of the foetus. Simantonnya, a ritual similar to a baby shower is performed during the seventh month, the word Simantonnya means ‘to satisfy the craving of the pregnant mother’. It is said that the mother’s mental state affects the foetus. Rituals also include Namakrna, a ceremony to name the child, Nishkarmana which is the baby’s first trip out, and the Annaprasana i.e. the first time when the child tastes solid food. The ear- piercing ceremony Karnavedha and the shaving of head, Mundan are also given a lot of importance.
- Burying of the baby’s placenta
The placenta is a sac which is formed in the uterus during gestation, it provides oxygen through blood supply and nutrition to the baby. Most hospitals dispose of the placenta after the child’s birth as it is no longer required, but people from religious and cultural traditions honor the placenta’s role by making or burying jewelry out of placenta.
In Hinduism, the head shaving ceremony is considered important, it is believed that it rids the baby of the negativity from the past life. It is believed to cleanse the child’s body and soul. Some Hindus take the hair and scatter it on the river Ganges.
- Ear- piercing
Karnavedha is a ritual in which Hindus have their child’s ears pierced. It is believed by some that the ritual wards off evil powers. Others believe that being an acupuncture point, piercing may have a therapeutic value.
- Naming ceremony
During the naming ceremony the parents of the baby announce the name and the spiritual significance of the name that they want to keep for their child. The blessings are said to value that the baby has come into a covenant with God. This ritual is done soon after birth.
- First words
The first words of a new born are likely to be uttered after a few months of experimenting and vocalizing, you would initially hear him cooing and saying monosyllables like ma, da, ba, pa, etc. The baby picks up words from what he hears in the initial months from you and the people around. The first real word may come around 8 -14 months by stringing the sounds ‘ma-ma’ and ‘da-da’ , babies find it easier to say ‘da-da’ than ‘ma-ma’. By 6 months the baby would most probably understand his name, other names and that of familiar objects. To help your baby say his first words you should talk to him and read a story book to him.
- Feeding something sweet
It is said that the infant’s first taste should be of something which is sweet in taste such as honey, if your doctor permits, you can give your baby some honey to taste.