The 16 SANSKARS
There are sixteen religious ceremonies known as Sanskars in Hindu culture. The Sanskars are performed for the Mental, physical, behavioral, and spiritual balance and progress of an individual. In these ceremonies Agni (Fire) plays a very important part. Because Agni is one of the purest form of five major elements in this world, which we also called energy. These ceremonies creates positive energy in a person and makes him more cool and wise to take new responsibilities and changed life style , whether it is holy war or Sanyaas (self exile for god) holy war means struggle against evil within and Sanyaas means detachment from lust ,greed, hatered and detachment from this materialistic world. The acknowledgement of this unique individualization process at every step of growth helps enrich the life of the person. Sanskaars prepare one for the next stage of growth. These ceremonies are vital for a human being to change his mind and means as well as fresh challenges.
1. Garbhadhana (Impregnation)
Conception acceptance ceremony. (After solemnizing marriage ceremony.) It can be offered as symbolic pooja (prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like"naam karan" and janeu dharan and vivah (marriage).
Ceremony of graceful care of the embryo to the development of the fetus. Usually it is undertaken during the second or third month of pregnancy. (it can be offered as symbolic pooja(prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like naam karan and janeu dharan and vivah(marriage).
Inviting God's blessings for the development of the fetus to full birth. Usually it is conducted from the fourth month of pregnancy, and, onwards, into the second, and the third trimester of pregnancy, similar to the ladies shower in the west. (It can be offered as symbolic pooja (prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like naam karan and janeu dharan and vivah(marriage).
This is an important ceremony some time we call it a new birth of thoughts also. which is now forgotten by common man. This is altogether accepting and identifying the new born as an individual.
5. Namakarana (Naming a child)
Naming ceremony which is usually on the eleventh day, usually from birth to the twelve days. (Most important ceremony in Hindu culture . it decides the phonetics of first letter of his or her name .this first letter includes positions of planets at birth time .it is most scientific ritual and necessary for every person whether he is Hindu or non Hindu.
Ceremony of invoking God's blessings to expose the new comer to the outside world and to pray for the well being of the baby. Usually this ceremony is conducted when the child is two to four months old. (It can be offered as symbolic pooja (prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like naam karan and janeu dharan and vivah) (marriage).
7. Annaprasana (first feeding of solid food)
Instead of liquid food this ceremony is an Offering of solid food to the infant, usually undertaken from four to six months of age. (it is a thanks to the planet (earth as well as universe) who will feed this human with air , water , fire,fields and sky for the whole of his life.
8. Chudakarma (Mundan- first shaving of the head)
This is a most important ceremony in Hindu culture. It is a Self-awaking ceremony which gives new confidence to the child. (One year and onwards.)
9. Karnavedha (Piercing of the Ear)
This ceremony is known as kaan chedan pooja. Here a human go through a piercing of his/her ear and few prayers poojas. that human also takes blessings of elders . we can say it is a Self-esteem development ceremony as well as great impact to have control on few veins (part of nerves system) which are vital in our body. It further enhances one's responsibility. (Usually three to five years).
10. Upanayana Janeu (Sacred Thread ceremony)
This ceremony is related to boys only. An adolescence age is that when human tries to explore each and every existing thing around him or self emerging thoughts. It reduces the fear of outer world and makes a man strong for isolation and separation from parents as he goes to school or madarsa or Gurukul. It is also called Yajnopaveet Sanskar. It is associated with janeu dharan ceremony. in this ceremony brother of mother is most important person in whole pooja (ceremony). (At the age of the 5 years or seven years,(This ceremony can be executed before marriage also)
The education enrichment ceremony which is undertaken when the child is five years of age. (It can be offered as symbolic pooja(prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like naam karan and janeu dharan and (vivah-marriage).
It is a welcoming ceremony to accept the grown-up as a qualified individual. It is undertaken after completion of studies, to return home, and to prepare for the next stage of life. (it can be offered as symbolic pooja(prayer ceremony) with major ceremonies like naam karan and janeu dharan and (vivah-marriage).
Vivah means - 2nd part of our life and responsibilities. From here we take or accept responsibilities and challenges of new world all alone. Here we project ourselves a person who is mature and capable of doing every thing in future. It also provides new emotions and sense of responsibility to a person. From this ceremony on wards a man and woman can /should produce a child who will carry forward name of the parental family and physical structure. If some body denies this most important ceremony he could be in trouble in his future life. (Age 19 to 24 for boy and 19 to 23 for girl) in Hinduism it is called- Grihastha Ashram.
14. Vanaprastha Ashram(3rd stage of life (Detachment from materialistic world)
After enjoying and fulfilling all desires, Kama; by earning money, artha, through righteous means and undertaking benevolent deeds such as Dharma, one is now ready to march ahead in life to conquer all the remaining gratification. Vanaprastha Ashram is the name of that stage of life where we think of detachment of our artificial interests from the demanding world. This period teaches is to spare our time for god and poor people as well as attachment with the nature... It is usually undertaken from fifty to seventy five years of age, and this stage is similar to a retirement planning state. ( frankly saying - it does not need any ceremony when some one is leaving every artificial thing or lust and burring all man made emotions and going for god and nature then why any pooja(prayer ceremony) / prayer)
15. Samnyasa Ashram(can say monk)
Samnyasa (can say monk) is the selfless service to mankind that is attained by spiritual awakening. When someone dedicates his or her life for societal upliftment without any personal gain, the person has entered the Sanyasa Ashram, and the ceremony confers the title of Sanyasi. Sanyasi usually, wears an orange robe to symbolize the self-less service to humanity. The orange color is a symbolic representative of blood. In other words a Sanyasi is ready to sacrifice his or her life for the societal upliftment. It is usually undertaken at the age of sixty years, onward. ( frankly saying - it does not need any ceremony when some one is leaving every artificial thing or lust and burring all man made emotions and going for god and nature then why any pooja(prayer ceremony) / prayer)
16. Antyesthi (Obsequies-Cremation)
This ceremony is the third ceremony in human beings life which neither he can see or participate in it. This is done by his or her beloveds. This is the last ceremony we can say when body meets to its real creators means five elements fire (dynamic energy), water, air, sky (space) and earth (base). When the soul has left the mortal body, the remains are cremated. This ceremony is called Antyesthi, Naramedha or Purusmedha are other terms used for Antyesthi. The body elements are consumed by fire, and the remains are disposed to nature. The body disintegrates to the five primary elements: earth, water, air, dynamic energy, and space, and the cycle starts all over again
Sanskars are the community events that mark the process of ending childhood with dependencies on parents. One attains a new social status. There is a new level of social responsibility which is conferred through rituals and initiation. Thus, it is a rite of passage, indeed, welcoming the young person into the larger community of adults.Sanskars are essential parts of life to deal with the crisis in transition from adolescence to adulthood, and then, into mid-life. Sanskars allay the anxiety, develop the social support system, in still coping skills that adapt to new frontiers of life, and provide the social cohesion that is so important to survive. After all, human beings are social beings, and the Sanskars make better human beings.