The naming ceremony, wherein an auspicious name, keeping in tune with one’s own custom, is given to the child. For the past several thousand years, the child is named after a chosen Deity or after some elder in the family. This too is done on the tenth day or thirty days after the birth of the child.
For six months no external food other than mother's breast milk is prescribed for a newborn baby. This is in line with modern medical conventions. After the sixth month the child is fed with the boiled and smashed food after offering it to ‘soma’, the deity of herbs, or as in present days to a chosen Deity (Ishta Devata).
Chaula is the tonsure ceremony. This is done on completion of one year after the birth or in the third year after birth. The hair with which the child was born is not to be cut until then. With appropriate mantras chanted, the hair is tonsured. This helps in the healthy growth of hair. Presently, it has become a custom to offer the first growth of hair to the family Deity.
This rite is nowadays accompanied with ear-piercing, called Karna-Veda. The incision made in the ear lobes is not to serve just like the ornamental purpose, but according to the practitioners of the Accu-pressure, the ear-lobes are the point that carries the energy channels to facilitate strong memory. Thus by piercing the earlobes and wearing a stud, constant pressure was applied in the area, helping in the retention of learning.
This is the rite in which the male child is made eligible to learn the Vedic scriptures. The term ‘Upanayana’ means ‘taking closer’ (Upa – near, Nayana – leading). This ceremony grants the child an entry into the Gurukula (Abode of teacher) where he is taken closer to the teacher. It also could be interpreted to mean a rite that takes the boy closer to wisdom (for the word Veda, means knowledge) closer to God (for, to know the true nature of the God, one needs the support of Vedic wisdom).
This is one of the major ceremonies to be undergone by the child. The Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and the Vaishyas were all eligible to be initiated into Vedic wisdom through the Upanayana ceremony. Though at present, it is practiced mostly by the Brahmins. The Upanayana ceremony has three major rites within it apart from the other minor ancillary rites.
The Shodasha Samskaaras - Part 2