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Namkaran Tradition in India
Posted On : 14 Aug 2006 Total Views : 199991 Previous | Next

Namkaran is the traditional Hindu Indian practice of naming the baby child. Nama means 'name' and karana means 'to make, to effect'. The Naming ceremony depends on the culture, religion, rituals and education of the family. The naming ceremony or Namakaran is an important Samskara (rite) in the life of a Hindu baby. People consult elders and priests for namimg their baby.

Types of Namkaran
1.

A Child is given a meaningful name during the religious ceremony, held preferably eleven days after birth.

2.

According to Hindu mythology, the naming ceremony for the newborn is predominantly a ladies’ function. On the appointed day, female relatives and friends arrive to participate in this colorful ceremony. At the auspicious time, the newborn is placed in the cradle decorated with colorful flowers and ribbons. All the women gather around the cradle and sing the traditional naming ceremony songs rhyming with the newborn’s name. Traditionally, the female participants used to bring rice grains and sugar along with toys to mark this auspicious event.

3.

In some ceremonies the Namkaran is held at home or in a temple where the father of the child whispers the name in the child's right ear usually after 2 or 3 weeks of the child's birth. The ceremony usually takes place on the twelfth day after birth.

4.

In certain Hindu communities the naming ceremony of the newborn takes place after three months. The baby can no longer be placed in a cradle up to three months old. In these ceremonies a sturdy colorful (red or green) piece of cloth is used to hold the baby. This cloth is also filled with items of good omen – such as nagarvel paan (green chewing pan), supari (betel nuts), haldi (turmeric), dry cuts, moong and coins of one rupee and quarter rupee denominations. (In Hindu mythology one and quarter is a sign of good luck).

5.

In some Traditions, the aunts (the father’s sisters) hold the four corners of the cloth in which the baby lies. The aunts then gently swing the cloth, imitating the movement of a cradle, while the female participants continue singing traditional songs. A typical song sung at a naming ceremony is:-

Oly Jholy Pipal Paan
Fui e Padyu Baby Nu Naam
6.

The first ten days after birth are considered an 'impure' time for the mother and child. On the twelfth day, the mother and child are given a ritual bath. The mother swathes the baby in a piece of new cloth, applies kajal to its eyes, and makes a little beauty mark on the cheek. The baby is then placed in the father's lap to be blessed. The priest offers prayers to all the gods and to Agni, the god of fire and the purifying factor, the elements, and the spirits of the forefathers, and entreats them to bless and protect the child. Then, the father leans towards the baby's right ear, and whispers its chosen name. Usually, the father does not whisper directly into the child's ear, but uses a betel leaf or its silver imprint, or a few leaves of kusa grass to direct the words to the child's ear.


5 requisites to selecting a baby name :

According to the Grihyasutras, there are 5 requisites to selecting a name for the baby.

1.

The name of the baby should be easy to pronounce and sound pleasant.

2.

The baby name should contain a specified number of syllables and vowels.

3.

The name should indicate the sex of the baby

4.

The baby' name should signify wealth, fame or power.

5.

The name should be suggestive of the caste of the family


Namakaran, or naming of the child, is the first real ceremony held for the newborn child, though should be done according to one convention. Hindus often prefer to name their children based on Hindu raashis because it is considered auspicious and is supposed to bring good fortune to the child. Raashis are determined by planetary positions at the date and exact time of the child’s birth.

The Rig Veda prescribes the formula of giving a name with four components:

1.

the nakshatra name,

2.

the name of the deity of the month,

3.

the family deity's name,

4.

and the popular name by which the child will generally be addressed. This system, however, is rarely followed these days.

The usual practice is to give one formal name and, if necessary, a short name by which the child will be called. Some people coin a suitable name from a combination of the parents' names. In certain communities, the first child is named after the paternal grandparent; in others, the first son is given the same name as the father. Sometimes, the baby is named after the nakshatra, or star, of its birth. The child could also be named after the family deity or guru.

After the naming ritual is over, friends and relatives who have come for the ceremony then bless the child and touch some honey to its lips. It is a moment of all-round happiness if the baby smacks its lips.

 
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