Annaprashana

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Annaprashan offerings

The Annaprashana (Sanskrit: अन्नप्राशन, Annaprāśana, Bengali: অন্নপ্রাসান, Onnoprashon) also known as annaprashana vidhi, annaprasan or Anna-prasanam, is a Hindu rite of passage ritual (Saṃskāra) that marks an infant's first intake of food other than milk. The term annaprashan literally means "food feeding" or "eating of food". The ceremony is usually arranged in consultation with a priest, who arranges an auspicious date on which to conduct the ceremony.

Annaprashana ceremony

Commonly referred to in English as First Rice, the ceremony is usually carried out when the child is about 6 months of age. (some Hindu communities do it later). It is an occasion for celebration, and extended family, friends and neighbours will be invited to attend.

The mother or grandmother will prepare a small bowl of kheer (boiled rice, milk & sugar) which is blessed in a brief puja. The child will generally be held in the mother's lap, and a senior male family member (grandfather or uncle) will feed it a small spoonful of the payesh, to general celebration. Other members of the family then take turns to give the child a taste.

The feeding ceremony is often followed with a game, in which the child is presented with a tray containing a number of objects. These will include a bangle or jewel (symbolising wealth), a book (symbolising learning), a pen (symbolising career) and a clay pot or container of earth/soil (symbolising property). The child's future direction and prospects in life are indicated by the object which it prefers to hold and play with.

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