The word ‘Sanskara' means a special purificatory spiritual activity or ritual that is designed to remove the impurities in the mind and sanctify one's life. Since ancient times these rituals have been given much importance.
This is the first of all the rituals, done as a preparation to welcome and prepare for the coming of the child. Six months before or three months or at least one month before, the would be parents should take a resolution to stop all sex and sleep separately. The body and mind has to be kept clean and not allow it to fall back on the lower charkas. Intense practice of selected yoga asanas, meditation, fasting, prayer should be done. Emotions should be kept happy and peaceful. Marriage should be stabilized and the relationship made mutually enjoyable. The mating act should be done lovingly but with less physical passion.
Jatakarma (Initiation at birth)
This is a very important ritual. This is done to implant spiritual tendencies in the child from the moment of its birth. After the birth the child is cleaned, bathed and handed over to the father. The father prepares a recipe of curd, clarified butter (ghee) and honey. With this he writes the symbol ‘OM' on the tongue of the child. Thereafter, he performs Havan (a vedic fire ritual) and feeds Brahmins, monks, holy people or the poor according to his means to receive the blessings for the child for his long life, intelligence and well-being. At this time the spiritual Guru or a priest should chant the mantra ‘OM' three times in the right ear of the child. He should then distinctly whisper in the right ear of the child, ‘You are an eternal, immortal blissful light being. You have come into this world to become aware of this. This is the purpose of this birth. Do not forget and do not get sidetracked. God bless you. Again chant ‘OM' three times.
Namakarana (Naming ceremony)
On the tenth, eleventh or twelfth day after birth this ritual is done. The family Guru or a suitable priest performs normal pooja-archana, (worship) of the family Deity and selects a suitable name. He can do so in consultation of the parents. The name should have inspirational value or the quality that the child is likely to exhibit in future.
Annaprashana (First feeding)
At the age of six months the child is for the first time given solid food. At this time the child is given boiled rice. The parents conduct prayer, worship, havan and feed people as in jatakarma above again to receive blessings for the child from all.
Chudakarma or Mundan (Head shaving)
Between ages three and five this ceremony is done. The head is shaved and only a tuft of hair is left on the top back of the head. This is called shikha or choti. In medical science this place is called posterior fontanel. This point is very sensitive to the sun's rays and to protect it the tuft of hair is left behind. This ritual from a very early age prevents the child to develop unnecessary attachment to the body and how it looks. In modern times we are all aware how