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Annaprasthanam – A Beautiful Ritual

As doting parents, we are quite alert and thoughtful about our baby’s progress. We follow a very strict regime of her immunizations, weight check, etc. For half a year, babies are exclusively fed breast milk, by which time they start wondering ‘What are those colourful morsels being laid on the plate of family members?’

Annaprasthanam is a beautiful ritual performed to start external food for the bundle of joy. It is typically done after the infant crosses 6 months of age. We decided to carry out this beautiful ceremony by worshipping God and feed our child his first food in the Ayyappa temple. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and we reached the temple in the early hours. The temple is situated on a verdant busy road and has a golden door which gets promptly closed before noon.

I have been visiting this temple for many years and all our important occasions have been performed in this temple. Our elder son was fed his first food here in the presence of all close relatives and grandparents. The temple architecture is that of a contemporary Kerala set up. As we entered the temple, an entire group of ladies were chanting the Lord’s name. It was a beautiful sound for the ears. As the priests were carrying out the puja, the Lord was beautifully adorned with white vastra (clothes). The inner sanctum which has the idol was beautifully illuminated with lamps of various sizes.

The idol was looking radiant and we could stand in peace to pray. We stood there watching the puja and sought the lord’s blessing for our children’s well being. The priest came with his spread of prasadam (food offered to God) and instructed us on what to offer our child first. The banana leaf was a beautiful combination of sweet, sour, salty and bitter food. Logic was to introduce your child to every taste of food. My son was enjoying the ambience and was wondering why the food is kept right in front of him.

Every time it so happened that my little wonder would lick his lips and keep his mouth open when we would have our food. Today he was going to be fed with the same stuff and his curiosity was going to rest from today. The priest came with the food and instructed us on the seating arrangement. Our little boy was made to sit on the lap of my husband and was curiously watching for the next step. The priest asked me if I had a gold ring and with the gold ring we touch each food item and dab it on our son’s tongue.

My husband obediently followed the instructions and my son with crossed eyebrows and frowny face tasted each food. While I thought he would be totally unaware that all these one two morsels will land on his tongue. The moment he got a tinge of food on his tongue he would shake and stir and lick his lips. It was a beautiful sight to see the little tongue licking the lips trying to trace the leftover of the morsels. It was a small but a beautiful ceremony. We were happy that we performed it in a temple and what best could it be carrying out a beginning in such a blessed environment.

Babies come with loads of happiness, right from conception to every stage of pregnancy to delivery. The first sonography where the doctor shows the tiny hands and legs, the first kick and then the numerous movements in the womb of the mother, the baby shower where the mom-to-be is the prime focus, all comes with loads of happiness. Till one year the baby ensures that she drives you mad with her increasing milestones and then you wonder how to match your energy level with the bundle of joy. That’s why I say these bundles are therapeutic. Our body never gets tired when babies are born and we always want to be on our toes when it comes to every ‘first time rituals’. I am happy that we are experiencing all this and we will see them growing as we grow up too.

After 12 years of banking experience, I chose to take a sabbatical for my kids and be an enterprising mother. I am a Bachelor in Commerce, Masters in Finance Management and done diploma in creative writing.Writing is my passion and wish to develop it further. My husband is my inspiration to all my aspirations. I am a mother of two sons, both in a very agile stage, all ready to run to explore with their little feet. I love travelling and writing about places visited and every thought that fascinates me. All this can be read in my blog Life Bytes.