Stressing out on what you should prepare for baby’s Annaprashan? Don’t sweat it, mum. From the ceremony to the menu, my tips will help get you through.
The Annaprashan Menu
In Bengal it is a tradition to feed a baby his/her first grain of rice around 6 months before the tooth shows..it is an initiation into solid foods. There is however a rule, it is performed during the even months for boys, generally in the child’s sixth or the eighth month. For girls, it is performed during the odd months, usually fifth or the seventh month, so we performed our daughter Aarvi’s on her fifth month. I have been curious why this is followed in different months..do the food pipes differ for girls and boys..anyways it doesn’t matter..the rice eating ceremony is just a custom and is quite cute.
The Annaprashan cake
The rice eating ceremony is called “Annaprashan” or “Mukhebhaat” in Bangla meaning “entry of grain” and “rice in mouth” respectively.
Paa feeding Aarvi her first grain of rice
Traditionally this ceremony is carried out in the child’s paternal home where the maternal uncle is invited to feed the child his/her first grain of rice. In our case, we were living abroad, so we had to do it without the uncle and her father had to play the role of her uncle in feeding her.
The morning Puja
The morning started off with Puja to seek the blessings of God and to mark the beginning of the auspicious day.
The spa bath included milk, rose petals, leaves and cucumber
We had also arranged a spa bath for her. She had an awesome first spa bath experience, she seemed to have enjoyed the process very much.
All decked out for the vidhi
Followed by the spa bath, she was dressed in traditional attire which was followed by the symbolic feeding of the rice pudding (kheer/payash) that was prepared by her father. This vidhi was then followed by a grand feast and cake cutting ceremony.
The Annaprashan feast may include a variety of items, but the sweetened rice pudding (payash/kheer) is the star dish.
The mandatory rice pudding (payash/kheer)
Apart from the kheer, salad, fried vegetables (potato, brinjal, bitter guard), dals, curries and flavored rice were some of the food items served. I included chicken, prawns, raaita (yoghurt mixed with spices and fruits), tomato sweet and sour chutney, sweets, dates, dry fruits, Belgian chocolates on the menu.
The religious feast was then followed by a fun game where a number of symbolic objects were placed on a plate which she had to pick up. The objects included:
1. Books symbolizing learning.
2. A pen symbolizing wisdom.
3. Money/Jewels symbolizing wealth.
4. Clay symbolizing land/property.
5. Knife symbolizing dignity of a king.
The Annaprashan game plate
It is believed that the object a baby picks up from the plate represents his/her area of interest in future. In our case, she picked the book and pen at the same time with both her hands.
With so much to arrange and a little baby to take care of, here are some handy and delightful tips for a hassle-free event:
-Send a colourful, well-worded invite with your baby’s picture to all the guests.
-Plan ahead of the event. Select your child’s traditional outfit, call the priest and arrange for the puja articles much in advance.
-Arrange for adequate space and decorations in your house or at the banquet hall for the guests.
-Make sure your baby is well rested before the ceremony. Carry a stocked up diaper bag if the venue of the event is not home.
-Keep few familiar toys handy to distract the baby if he gets overwhelmed by the crowd.
-Ensure the fabric of your baby’s outfit does not discomfort her. If you are planning to use any jewellery on your baby, make sure it doesn’t hurt him/her.
-Share your plans in detail with your spouse or a family member. In case you disappear to feed your baby or calm her down, someone can take over the show!
-Hire a photographer or take charge to capture all the precious moments of your baby’s big day.
Maa and Aarvi’s precious and memorable moment
Whether conducted on a big or small scale, any parent would love to make their child’s Annaprashan ceremony memorable. So go ahead, make this occasion of your baby’s life, a momentous one.
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the Annaprashan ceremony, please share them in the Comment box below.