the culture and education of the family. It is desired to be auspicious and
significant. But in the case of a child whose birth is belated, or who is born
after the parents had sustained the loss of many children, an awkward or
repulsive name is given in order to frighten away disease and death.
Namakarana is ordinarily performed on the tenth or twelfth day after the
birth of the child.
Nishkramana is the name given to the taking of the child for the first time
out of the house. In the beginning the child is confined to the lying-in
chamber and then to the house in which it is born. But within a month or two
even the house is found to be too small a world for the growing child; the
satisfaction of its curiosities and the movements of its limbs require a wider
field, and so it is brought out to the world outside with the performance of
nishkramana. Life outside the house, however, is not free from natural and
supernatural dangers. Therefore a number of precautionary measures,
physical and religious, are adopted to ensure the safety of the child. The
sacrament is significant, as it recognises a vital need of the growing child
brought face to face with the sublime splendour of the universe.
Annaprasana is the first feeding of the child with solid food; it is
primarily connected with the physical necessity of the child. This fact is
endorsed by Susruta, who prescribes the weaning of the child in the sixth
month and feeding it with the type of food suitable to growth. Food sustains
life; but it is believed that there is something mysterious or spiritual about it,
and that life emanated from it. On the day of the feeding ceremony, the
sacramental food is prepared out of cleaned materials, while muttering
appropriate Vedic hymns.
Chudakarana (tonsure) is the eighth samskara. The purpose of which is
the achievement of long life and beauty for its recipient. Life is prolonged by
tonsure and shortened without it; therefore it should be performed by all
means. That tonsure conduces to long life and beauty is endorsed by Susruta
and by Charaka. It is the opinion of some that this ceremony had originally a
dedicative purpose: that is, hair was cut off and offered to a deity as a gift;
but this dedicative purpose is unknown to the Grihyasutras and the Smritis.
No doubt, the sacrament is sometimes performed in the temple of a deity;
this, however, is done only in the case of those children who are born either
after long disappointment or after the death of previous children. As a rule,