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Beliefs and practices
- Betel leaf, haldi, kumkum
- Blouse pieces
On the eleventh day after birth there are purification rituals to cleanse away the pollution (Janama Sutaka) caused by childbirth. The mother and the child, who are till then secluded from the family, re-enter the household. A priest performs a pooja, recites the appropriate mantras and sprinkles sacred water all over the house, thereby purifying it.
Naam Karan or Barasala
- Gold ring
On the eleventh day after birth, the child is given a name. It is during this ceremony that for the first time relatives and close friends see the child. It is a small ceremony where invitees sing songs and celebrate the arrival of the child. The name is written on rice spread on the floor or on a tray. The child's maternal uncle takes a golden ring and keeps it on the child's mouth. The mother and both the grandmothers give gold to the child (either a chain or a bangle)
- Uyyalalo Veyadam (Cradle Ceremony)
- New silk cloth
An auspicious time is chosen on the evening of the 21st day after childbirth. Usually a new silk cloth is put in the cradle and it is decorated with flowers. At the auspicious time, the mother or the paternal grandmother places the child in the cradle. This is known as Uyyalalo Veyadam.
- Kesa Khandan
The Head-shaving (Tonsure) and ear piercing ceremony, also known as the Mundan ceremony. These ceremonies are not celebrated on a grand scale and are usually small events within the family. Kesakhandan is performed at the temple along with ear piercing for the female child.
- Rice and milk
- Silver bowl
- A book
- A gold chain
- A pen
- A knife
- A small wooden table
The initiation of the child to solid food is known as Annaprasan. Food is first offered to God. Then the paternal grandmother mixes rice and milk in a silver bowl and feeds the child. Then a book, gold chain, pen and a knife are placed on a small wooden table. The child is then left free 15 yards (14 m) away from the table. As the child moves towards the table, he or she is believed to become associated with whichever of the four articles that he or she touches.
The qualities attributed to the four articles are:
- Pen - Academician, Writer, Scholar
- Book - Studious
- Knife - Boldness
- Gold - Wealth and Prosperity.
- Usual pooja samagri such as kumkum, rice, water, flowers and fruits, incense etc
The initiation of a child into the formal learning process is usually done between the 3rd and the 5th year of the child. A priest is asked to preside over the ceremonies. The child participates in the Saraswati pooja as the priest recites the mantras. The child is then made to write the first two alphabets and is guided by the father in doing this. Children of the same age group and the child's friends are invited for lunch on this occasion. Sometimes the teacher of the school where the child would be educated is also invited and gifts are given. The children are gifted with slates and chalk, and shloka and poetry books
- In the past Mundan or shaving the head was essential before this sanskar. Today many just get a hair cut before the sanskar.
- Mekhla - Thread to tie around the waist.
- Kopin - Loincloth about six inches wide and one and a half feet long.
- Dandi - Wooden stick.
- Thread for Yagyopaveet, which should be dyed yellow.
- New clothes to be worn by the persons performing the ritual.
- The Veda, which signifies knowledge. If the Veda is not available, any other holy book should be wrapped up in a cloth and should be kept on a raised pedestal.
- Three mounds of rice grains to be kept on this pedestal for worshipping Gayatri, Saraswati and Savitri.
Upanayanam or the sacred thread ceremony is performed for the male child at the age of seven years (if this is not possible then in any odd year). This is when the boy is initiated into the Gayatri Mantra. The upnayanam ceremony in modern practice is performed just before marriage. Traditionally it was a long ceremony with elaborate rituals:
It is one of the most important rituals in a Hindu's life. Shikha or choti and sutra or janeu, are two of the most important symbols on a Hindu male in particular. Shikha is symbol of faith, and Yagyopaveet is a symbol of the righteous path. This event signified the entry of the male into Brahmacharya, the commencement of his life as a true student at the ashram of the guru. It thus signifies an entry into a state of disciplined existence.
A tuft or lock of hair on the crown of the head, a crest, topknot, plume.
From the time of the Vedas, the shikha was a distinguishing feature of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. It signified the 'twice-born' or all those Upanayanam has been performed. At the time of Chudakarana, a tuft of hair was left on the head, never to be cut. This shikha covered a large part of the brain. According to Sushruta, the reason that a few tufts are left on the head is that at the crown, an artery joins a critical nerve juncture. Since an injury to this part of the head is believed to be fatal, it was considered necessary to protect the area by keeping a tuft of hair over it. The shikha was a symbol of superiority and of cleanliness.
Any religious or auspicious ceremony required the shikha to be tied in a knot. The knot was tied to the accompaniment of the Gayatri Mantra. An untied shikha was a symbol of disgrace, impurity and mourning.
Tying of the shikha.
During funeral and death ceremonies (see Antyeshti) it was left untied. Presently only Brahmins wear the shikha, especially by practicing priests. The shikha on the top of the head represents the shikhara that is raised atop all Hindu temples. Temple architecture is based on the vastu purusha mandala or Mystic Square, a diagram said to represent the Supreme Being (see Brahman). A temple is considered a symbolic depiction of the Supreme Being, whose head is represented as the shikhara of the temple. And in men, the shikha symbolises the brahamanda on which Brahma is said to reside.