Thursday, June 10, 2010

Annaprashan - the rice tasting ceremony bringing baby into the adult world

It so happened that I was going through old pictures of Navya's and just came across this one...... Its the one taken on her Annaprashan, the rice-tasting ceremony...Here she is wearing a traditional Bengali mukut.....

The Annaprashan is an important ceremony in any Bengali family. The child is given its first solid food,in this case rice, and marks an important event in baby's life.
The day mainly starts with a giving baby a bath and putting on a new dress. Then there is a puja performed, mostly at the local temple, but some people also do it at home.

Many parents and grandparents adorn the baby with jewellery...little gold bangles,tiny gold rings,little earrings for the baby and sometimes even a thin gold chain.

The baby wears a mukut on her head and after the holy chants are over,the mama,mother's brother,usually feeds the baby with a spoonful of paayesh (kheer cooked with rice).

After the paayesh is had a simple game is played. On a plate is arranged a book (which symbolises an interest in studies and the intellect),a silver coin and some cash (that symbolises an interest in accumulating wealth), a pen (which symbolises wisdom),clay (which symbolises an interest in accumulating property) and food (which symbolises a love for food).Whatever the child picks up symbolises what the child's interests would be in later life. The family stands around the child and cheers her/him to pick something of their choice,all in good fun..and then everyone claps and cheers as the baby shows its choice.

I remember the day of her Annaprashan even now. Her dadun (maternal grandpa) dimma (maternal grandma) and mama (maternal uncle) had all arrived from Delhi for this very special day. The week before we had scouted the various stores in the malls and decided on a cute little polka dotted dress. That the markets are always filled with mostly reds and pinks for baby girls is never a deterrent - I love to see her most in these two colours.

We had woken up early on that day, checking the preparations at the temple where we were supposed to offer the puja and make her have her first bite of solid. The morning was spent calling here and there and the father and the mama making trips to the temple to see what all was needed for the holy offerings.

We reached there a little before noon, bathed and dressed, the lady of the moment dressed in a cute little rabbit dress. Her grandparents had bought her a traditional bengali 'mukut' from Delhi. It was now in the careful possession of the grandma.

Once in the temple the purohit made the prayers and the offerings. Obviously my daughter would never sit still when she was required to :) So mama promptly did the rounds of the temple, cuddling her in his arms.

At the designated hour, my daughter was made to sit in her father's lap for the ceremony. The bowl of home-made paayesh was placed in front and after many cooing and begging and tactics one spoonful was finally and safely inside her tummy.

And of course she was cranky and angry and irritable. She just wanted to go home and be naughty and we just wanted to see what she would touch on the plate...she touched the pen and the money and the pen....which means she is going to be an intellectual (:D) interested in money (?) and then again drift towards being an intellectual :D

We all came home happy and talking and the day was spent in gorging on some delicious Bengali special fare. The rest of the evening we all spent discussing my daughter's future and what she might do when she grows up...and the lady of the hour? Well, she was happy as long as she had her Minnie Mouse and her dolls by her... intellect or money, these were still many years away to tempt her...

Just a small fun occasion but so important for everyone around....

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