Annaprashan is the first rice eating ceremony of a child in Hinduism. How the annaprashan ceremony is performed varies from region to region. Here is a brief account of how to do first rice eating ceremony of baby in Hindu religion based on the text History of Dharmashastras.
Annaprashan is one of the most important samskaras and is performed after jatakarma (neo-natal ceremony) and namakarana (naming ceremony).
It is performed after the sixth month of birth – the first solid food is given on this day.
The ritual is performed for male child in even months after birth and for girl child in odd months after birth. This is not strictly followed in most regions.
The ideal date to perform the ceremony is the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 13th day of the waxing phase of moon in a fortnight – the Shukla Paksha or days after Amavasya or new moon.
The Annaprashan ceremony is performed by father or mother or by an elderly member in the family. Please note that Mother can perform this ceremony. There is no Hindu scripture that states that Mother cannot perform the ceremony.
It is highly meritorious if annadanam, food donation, to poor and orphan children and elderly is performed before or after the Annaprashan ceremony.
The ceremony begins by offering prayers to Ganesha.
This should be followed by offering prayers to Goddess Durga.
Then prayers should be offered to little Sri Krishna.
Ancestors and family members who have expired should be remembered and blessings should be taken.
A small thread colored in turmeric powder is tied on the right hand of the male child. For female child the thread is tied on the left hand.
The child is then given rice mixed with honey, curd and ghee. Only a small quantity of food should be prepared.
Salt, hot and pungent items should never be given. Non-vegetarian items should not be included. Prepare curd and ghee at home if possible.
The food is to be given four times to the accompaniment of the recitation of Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah, Bhurbhuvassuvah.
The food should be given using the right hand.
The person who is feeding the child should pray – saying – the child be healthy always; the child be blessed with good food always and the child should not have any health problems due to food.