ending in samavartana (graduation). The
  Asvalayana, and Baudhayana have sections dealing with it. The number of
  samskaras in the Grihyasutras fluctuate between twelve and eighteen.
    In course of time sixteen became the classical number comprising the
    following:
    Garbhadhana (conception),
    Pumsavana (engendering a male issue),
    Simantonnayana (parting the hair),
    Jatakarman (natal rites),
    Namakarana (naming),
    Nishkramana (first outing),
    Annaprasana (first feeding with boiled rice),
    Chudakarana (tonsure),
    Karnavedha (piercing the ear lobes),
10. Vidyarambha or akshararambha (learning the alphabet),
11. Upanayana (holy thread ceremony),
12. Vedarambha (first study of the Vedas),
13. Kesanta (cutting the hair),
14. Samavartana (graduation),
15. Vivaha (marriage), and
16. Antyesti (funeral).
  Purpose of Samskaras
  The samskaras are first of all based on the simple unquestioned faith of the
  unsophisticated mind; and so they have a popular import. The Hindus of early
  times believed that they were surrounded by superhuman influences, good or
  evil; and they sought to remove the evil influences by the various means they
  devised for the purpose, and they invoked the beneficial ones for affording
  them timely help. Among the means adopted for the removal of evil
  influences, the first was propitiation. When the unfavourable power was
  propitiated, it turned away without injuring the person purified by the
  samskara. The second means was deception. The evil influences were
  diverted either by hiding the person exposed to them or by offering his
  substitute. The third means was   to resort to threat and direct attack—when