Right after a baby is born, the first delightful challenge is picking the right name for him or her. While many couples tend to make a list of names, some of them take a traditional path. One of the most common ways to pick a baby's name is through a naamkaran ceremony. Naamkaran or a naming ceremony is a very common and important Hindu ritual, which takes place after the birth of a child. Naamkaran' is derived from Sanskrit where Naam means name, and karan means create. It is a formal ceremony held in the presence of close family members, a priest and friends. This ceremony takes place in many castes and communities in India. However, it may vary as per the different regions of the country. At some places,this happens after a few weeks while some households conduct it after a few months of a baby's birth. This is also a very important ceremony where the newborn gets introduced with the entire family.
When should naamkaran be held?
As per Hindu traditions, the naamkaran ceremony ideally should be conducted after Jaatakarma which is held immediately after the baby's birth. However, since most births now happen in the hospital, this ceremony rarely takes place immediately. Therefore, naamkaran should be held either 11 days after the baby's birth or on an auspicious day chosen by the astrologer. However, it should necessarily happen before the child turns one year old.
How is the name chosen in this ceremony?
In order to proceed with the rituals, most Hindu families rely on an astrologer or a priest who gives out a few options of the first letters with which the baby can be named. The starting letter of the name is always recommended according to the 'birth star or janma nakshatra' of the child. The first letter is also sometimes chosen by the date of birth or planetary positions at the time of your baby's birth. Along with the above methods, there are 5 general principlesto pick a name for your kid during naamkaran. Take a look:
MaasaNaama: The name is selected as per the birth month of the baby by Hindu calendar.
Nakshatra Naama: The name is selected as per the birth star or janma nakshatra.
Kuladevatha Naama: The baby is named after the family's deity.
Raashi Naama: The name is selected as per the sun sign or the moon sign which were there during the time of his or her birth.
Vyavahaara Naama: This is the name which the parents and the family would choose to address their baby with.
How are the rituals performed?
Naamkaran is a traditional Hindu ceremony, which takes place in almost every caste and community. But as mentioned above it largely depends upon the regional practices of that particular community. The ceremony is led by a priest where the mother and father of the child begin the ritual with a prayer and chanting of vedic mantras by priests. Sometimes, a havan is also performed before the naming ceremony to pray for baby's health and long life. The priest offers prayer to the Gods, the 5 elements (Agni-Fire, Bhoomi- Earth, Aakash Skies, Jal Water and Vayu Air) and the spirits of the ancestors. Then the father of the baby writes the chosen names on rice which is then spread on a silver plate. The vyavahaaranaama is whispered by the father into the child's right ear thrice. Meanwhile, in some places,other relatives like paternal aunt or maternal uncle and even grandparents also whisper the name in the baby's ear.