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Baby naming or naamkaran ceremony is an important occasion where the parents select a newborn’s name with traditional rituals and astrological rules of naming. It is a formal and a scared event attended by close family, relatives and friends. It is a joyous ritual where family and friends get together to shower their blessings on the newborn baby for his well-being and good life.
What is Naamkaran?
Naamkaran, or naming ceremony is a Hindu tradition which is one of the most significant of the 16 Hindu ‘samskaras’ or rituals. ‘Naam’ means ‘name’ and ‘karan’ means ‘to create’ in Sanskrit. In some traditions, Naamkaran ceremony is also called ‘Palanarohan’, which means to put a child into the cradle. In Sanskrit, ‘palana’ means ‘cradle’ and ‘arohan’ means ‘on board’. So, it is a formal event in which the newborn is named and his birth is celebrated with rituals and traditions. This function not only has a religious significance but also has legal and social importance.
When and Why is it Done?
Traditionally, the naamkaran ceremony is held within a few weeks of the birth of the baby. Ideally, the naming ceremony is performed 11 days after birth just before the ‘Sutika’ or ‘Shuddhikaran’ period during which the mother and child are given intensive post-natal care. Therefore, the most auspicious day for the ceremony is the eleventh or twelfth day after birth. Nevertheless, the eleventh day is not mandatory and the parents can choose any day based on their priest’s or an astrologer’s advice. Hence, the naamkaran ceremony may be scheduled anytime after the tenth day, and before the baby’s first birthday. The naamkaran ceremony is performed to give the newborn a name and an identity. The rituals conducted during the ceremony seek blessings for the newborn for his good health, long and prosperous life ahead. Also, his horoscope is made on this day.
Where and How is Namkaran Sanskar in Hindu Tradition Performed?
The namkaran vidhi can be performed at home or in a temple. The choice lies with the family and the practices followed in the community. While some may like to celebrate it on a grand scale in a special banquet hall or tent (pandal) with a large gathering, others may opt for a small private ceremony with close family. The naamkaran sanskar in Hindu tradition is performed by a pundit. He decides an auspicious day and time of the naming ceremony, also called the ‘Shub Mahurat’. The pundit conducts a puja or havan wherein prayers are offered and mantras are chanted for the well-being of the newborn. He also creates a horoscope for the baby. On a bronze dish or ‘thali’, rice grains are spread and the father writes the newborn’s name on it with a gold stick. The chosen name is then whispered into the baby’s right ear by the father four times, along with a prayer. In some families, the aunt (father’s sister) of the baby whispers the baby’s name in the baby’s ears. Thereafter, it is announced to family and friends. In certain communities, the auspicious ceremony is performed in the presence of at least five married women. These women are responsible to conduct various rituals as per the Hindu customs. Women sing songs for welcoming the baby. In some families, during the ceremony, the newborn baby is placed in the cradle. The family members take turns to rock the cradle of the baby and bless him. The ceremony is concluded with a special feast for the guests.
Choosing the Right Name for the Baby
Hindus are of the belief that the meaning of a child’s name influences his character and shapes his destiny. They also believe that if the name of the newborn is not in sync with the planet position, it can bring the child bad luck. So choosing a right name for the baby is very important. Pundits usually advise namkaran by date of birth or sun sign or rashi. So based on the date and time of birth of the child, a particular letter associated with the rashi is selected and a name starting with that letter is given to the baby. It is believed to bring good luck for the baby.
As per Hindu tradition, the initial letter of the name is also very important and is selected based on the ‘Janam Nakshatra’ or star under which the child is born, the moon sign and the planetary placement at the moment of birth. A name can also be chosen according to the deity who is believed to preside over the month of birth, or after an ancestor. In general, there are five naming principles which are followed: Nakshatranam (by lunar asterism); Devatanama (after the family deity); Masanam (the birth month); Samsarikanama (the worldly name); Rashinama (zodiac sign).
Official Name and Astrological Name
Some parents, these days, like to keep the astrological name private based on their comfort and ease. The name chosen during a namkaran ceremony at times becomes the official name. But nowadays, the trend is to select an offical name and also a shortened version of the name by which the child is addressed at home. This may be done by combining the names of the parents. Some communities name a boy based on the even number of Sanskrit letters (2, 4, 6, 8) and a girl with the odd one (3, 5, 7, 9). 11 is a number which is considered best for both genders.
Gifts That are Appropriate for Namkaran Ceremony
On the occasion of child naming ceremony people shower their blessings on the newborn in the form of gifts. Everyone wants to carry the perfect gift to the event. Different kinds of gifts can be given according to your relationship with the family and your budget. Gifts can also be selected keeping in mind the requirements of the baby. Few gift ideas are as follows:
- Gold and silver ornaments
- Gold and silver coins
- Gift coupons
- Baby accessories like cots, bathtubs or prams
- Utilities for baby like soaps, shampoos, wipes etc.
- Gift hampers
Baby naming or namkaran is a very special way of celebrating the arrival of the newborn into the family. It’s a way of showering him with blessings according to rituals and traditions, thereby cementing a good and prosperous future for him.
Also Read: Top 15 Modern and Fun Baby Shower Games