What is naamkaran?
Naamkaran, is a traditional Hindu naming ceremony. In Sanskrit 'naam' means 'name' and 'karan' means 'to create' or 'to effect'. The ceremony is performed to formally choose the newborn's name and celebrated with family and friends.
When is the naamkaran done?
According to Hindu traditions, the naamkaran ceremony is usually performed within a few weeks of the baby's birth. The eleventh or twelfth day after birth is considered the most auspicious day for the ceremony. Some parents also choose the day based on their religious leader's advice and the naamkaran may be held on any day after the tenth day, and before the baby's first birthday.
Where and how is the naamkaran ceremony performed?
It depends on the family and community. Some have the ceremony at home while some may go to a temple. Some may prefer a small private ceremony with family, while for some naamkaran is a lavish affair, celebrated in a special pandal or banquet hall with many guests. The naamkaran ceremony is performed by a pundit. After a bath, the baby and his parents wear new clothes. The naamkaran begins with a puja or a havan and prayers are offered for the baby's health, happiness and long life. The pundit will also draw out the baby's horoscope and pray for the child. After the religious rites are over, the father or mother whispers the baby's chosen name in his ear.
The name is announced to family members and guests. The baby is then welcomed into the family and community with his given name. After the ceremony, prasad is offered, and everyone blesses the baby and offers gifts.
How can I choose the right name for my baby?
Every parent across the globe has a different way of coming up with the perfect name for their baby. Some parents consult horoscopes to gain an insight into the kind of personality their baby will develop as she grows. This helps them to choose a name with a meaning that corresponds with their baby's birth star or (nakshatra). It is believed that choosing your baby's name based on her birth star plays a significant role in shaping her character and destiny.
Names based on numerology are popular too. Many believe that you can give your child a great start in life by choosing a name that reflects the positive qualities associated with the numerological value of the name. Music is an integral part of the Indian culture and many choose names based on Indian classical music or ragas. On the other hand, some parents just love to pick a name inspired by gemstones for their little gem! Some also choose a baby's name that reflects either masculine or feminine qualities. So boys' names are linked with strength and firmness, and girls' names with beauty and flowers. Names inspired by nature, film stars or celebrities are popular too. If you're still looking for inspiration, we've got plenty of ideas to help you.
What gifts are appropriate for a naamkaran ceremony?
A variety of gifts can be given depending on your relationship with the family and the budget you have in mind. Some popular gifts include:
gold or silver jewellery
gold or silver coins
cradles, cots or prams
Cash or a gift coupons are popular choices. If you can't decide on a gift, speaking to a close family member may help.
What should I keep in mind while organising my baby's naamkaran?
Naamkaran, or the naming ceremony, is an important tradition in India. To make the most of it, here are a few tips on how to keep your baby happy through the ceremony followed by some ideas on how to organise the day.
How to keep your baby happy and safe through his naamkaran:
Ensure that your baby is well-rested before the ceremony.
Try to organise the ceremony after your baby’s morning bath or before his mid-morning nap.
Feed your baby beforehand so that he is not hungry during the ceremony.
Ensure that the place where you are performing the naamkaran ceremony is well-ventilated and comfortable.
Try to limit the gathering to close family members and friends. Your baby may feel overwhelmed with too many people around especially if they crowd around him.
Dress your baby in comfortable clothing. It's best to avoid clothes with zari, mirror-work, heavy embroidery, gota, embellishments or thread work as it may irritate his tender skin.
Don't feed honey or any other herbal preparation to your baby. Honey should not be given to babies until they are a year old.
If you are having a havan ensure that your baby is not too close to the fire and keep his face away from the smoke. Keep the doors and windows open to allow for cross ventilation.
After the ceremony, settle your baby in his pram, carrycot or palna in one place, and allow the guests to go and see him there. If he is asleep, request your guests to avoid picking him up.
A few ideas on what to do during your baby's naamkaran:
After the puja or havan, an elder, your husband or you could say a few lines to welcome your baby into the family and community. If your baby has an older sibling, you can involve her in the ceremony by letting her tell a story, recite a poem or perhaps sing a song. You can also encourage her to give a gift to the new baby. Keeping your older child involved in the ceremony will help her feel loved and cherished on a day when most of the attention is being showered on her new sibling.
So that you have something to keep and remember the day by, you can organise for a simple keepsake. You could use a baby record book or photo album and ask your guests to write a few words for your baby. You can then fill the book up with pictures of your baby as he grows. If making photo albums is not your thing, you could simply paste a photograph of your baby on a large chart paper, and let the guests write their wishes around the photo.
You may also want to give small tokens of appreciation to your guests. Small boxes of mithai or dried fruit work well as "thank you" gifts.
And finally, don't forget to take lots of photos or videos of the event. You're sure to keep looking back and remembering this special day.