On Thursday, I was privileged to be invited by a friend to her daughter’s annaprashan. An annaprashan/annaprasan is a Hindu ceremony where the baby is offered their first solid food – in this case, it was kheer (a rice-based dish).
It was a very interesting thing to watch – the pandit was the same priest as had come for the Griha Pravesh puja, so there was a moment of him blinking, asking “Wait, is she Hindu?” “No, just curious.” … and again, he made sure I was involved. I had to run out to find a new blank notebook we could use for the ceremony, and he did the tikka-and-prayer thread part of the ceremony while I was gone. When I came back, he made sure that I had the chance to have it done too, if I wished (and I did).
The ceremony itself had certain similarities to the Griha Pravesh puja, namely at the end: the first part was different, and involved worshiping different figures and aspects including, in this case, the 9 planets. There were at least four offerings made – I remember this by the fruits used (an orange, an apricot, a mango and an apple).
The similarities with the Griha Pravesh puja were next: pandit-ji and my friend’s brother built it (that’s when Adam should have been there..!), and some ghee was mixed with a special type of earth (rather like a mulch, in fact) and then put into small bowls, and from there we tossed small pinches (using thumb and the fourth finger) into the fire. After that, back to the variations. First, Nitya was given the chance to touch an object, as a foretelling/hope for her future: she ended up touching a book, which is a sign of learning. Initially, she wasn’t really keen on touching anything at all! 🙂 the baby was offered her kheer by various members of the close and extended family (myself included), and after that was the aarti, and then done!
Afterwards was a luncheon, for those who couldn’t make the puja (they must be done on certain auspicious days, and at appropriate times; also to coordinate with the priest’s schedule). Adam came in after teaching class and got to have lunch with us, and then we headed back to the school!