Hindus attach great importance to the naming of the child.
According to them the name should be of two syllables or four
syllables beginning with a consonant, with a semi-vowel in it,
and with a long vowel at the end. According to their belief,
one who is desirous of holy lusture, his name should contain
four syllables. For boys, names with an even number of
syllables are prescribed. For naming a girl, a different basis
is adopted. The name should contain an uneven number of
syllables.. It should end in aa or ee.
The name of a
girl should contain three syllables. It should be easy to
pronounce, pleasing to hear, of clear meaning, charming,
auspicious, ending in a long vowel. The naming ceremony is
performed on the 10th/ 11th/12th day after the birth of the
child. The syllables of the name are also based on the science
(First solid feeding):
The feeding of the child with solid food is the next important
stage in the life of the child. TiIl now it is being fed on
the mother’s milk. After six or seven months the child will
require a greater amount and different types of food, while
the quantity of the mother’s milk is diminished. So for the
benefit of the child and the mother the child should be weaned
away from the mother, and some substitute for her milk should
be given to the baby. The first feeding ceremony is performed
in the sixth month after the birth of the child.
significance of the Annaprasana ceremony is that the children
are weaned away from their mothers at the proper time.
The chudakarma (Tonsure): The purpose of this ceremony is
the achievement of
long life for the child. According to Hindu scriptures
life is prolonged by tonsure; according to susruta,
shaving and cutting
the hair and nails remove impurities and give
lightness, prosperity and courage to the child.
Charaka opines that cutting and dressing of hair, beard and
nails give strength, vigour, life, purity and beauty. At the
basis of this ceremony the idea of health and beauty is
ceremony is normally performed on the thirteenth month, third
or fifth year of the child. It is performed only in the
daytime. The obvious reason is that hair cutting in the night
is dangerous. The system of keeping tuft on the top of the
head has significance. This is meant for the long life of the
child. The question may be asked why did the Hindu sages
suppose that the keeping of tuft hair on the top of the head
would prolong one’s life? Is there any connection between
longevity and the top-hair? According to susruta, inside the
head, near the top, is the joint of a sira (artery) and Sandhi
(a critical juncture). There in the eddy of the hairs is the
vital spot called Adhipathi (overload). Any injury to this
part causes sudden death. The protection of this vital part by
keeping a tuft of hair just over the vital part serves this
(Boring the ears): Boring of different limbs
ornaments was prevalent among ancient peoples all over the
world. Even when civilization progressed, ornamentation
continued. In the case of boring ears, it is undoubtedly
ornamental in its origin, but later on it proved to be useful.
Susruta says, the ears of a child should be bored for
protection from diseases and decoration. He explicitly
prescribes boring of ears for preventing hernia. This should
not be too difficult to accept now that medical science has
taken notice of acupuncture.
ceremony is performed at a very early age of the child because
boring the ear would be easier and less painful to the child.
Vidyarambha (Learning of Alphabets): This ceremony is
the fifth year of the child. When the sun is in the northern
hemisphere an auspicious day is fixed for performing this
ceremony. The child takes his bath and is properly dressed. He
worships the Gods and a Homa (Yajna ritual) is performed. The
ritual consists in writing and reading. Saffron, and other
substances are scattered on a silver plate and letters are
written with a gold pen, or on rice with any pen suitable for
the occasion. The following phrases are written: “Salutation
to Ganesa. Salutation to Saraswati, Salutation to family gods
and goddesses. Salutation to Narayana and Lakshmi.”
shows that the child was introduced to education along side
the divinities worshipped by the family. The child would soon
be old enough to start his formal education. Soon he would
leave his parents after the thread ceremony and proceed for
the Guru’s ashram.
his formal education was completed, the ancients would have
the Samavartana ceremony or the Convocation Function.
Samavartana ceremony was somewhat corresponding to the
modern convocation function. It is only those who have passed
their examinations who are at present admitted to the
convocation. Similarly only those who had finished their
education and observed all the vows were permitted to undergo
the Samavartana ceremony.
the student would take his bath, he would take permission of
his master to end his student career and satisfy him with a
gurudakshina (an offering of cash or kind of the master as a
token of appreciation for his effort In educating him.)
The Ceremonies and their
opened with a very strange procedure. The student was required
to shut himself up in a room throughout morning. It was done
so that the sun would not be insulted by the superior lustre
of the Snataka (learned student) as the former shines only
with the light borrowed from the latter. At
midday the student would come out of the room, embrace the
the teacher and pays his last tribute to the Vedic fire
by putting some fuel in it. Eight vessels full of water were kept, indicating the eight quarters of the earth and
suggesting the idea of honour and praise being showered on the
student from all over the earth. Then the student would draw
water out of one vessel. The body of a student was heated with
the fire of austerity and penance; hence for the comfortable
life of a householder the body required a cooling influence, which was symbolised by bathing.
the grand bath, the student casts off his entire outfit
e.g. the Mekhala, the deerskin, the staff etc. into
water and puts on a new loincloth. He cuts his beard, lock of
hair, nails and cleanses his teeth. The symbolism of the bath
was that the student had practiced continence both in food and
speech, and now he was going to prepare himself for a fuller
and more active life of the world. The austere life of the
student was over and the many comforts and luxuries of life
denied to him during his Brahmacharya were presented to him.
He was given a bath in fragrant water. He put on new garments
and received flowers and garlands. Dressed in his new attire
the student would proceed to the nearest assembly of the
learned in a chariot or on an elephant. There he was
introduced as a competent scholar by his teacher.
survey of the Samavartana ceremony shows how high was the
respect in which scholars, who had completed their education,
were held by society in ancient India.