Index: Conception, Middle Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery, and Early Infancy
Perform the samskar, or scripture-based rite, of Garbhadana, which is a ceremony celebrating conception. This fervent prayer hopes that a child will fulfill the parent's obligation to continue the human race.
Perform the samskar for fetus protection, called Punsavana. This is performed during the third or fourth month of pregnancy and is thought to invoke divine qualities in a child. It is also thought to ensure the birth of a male child. Simantonnayana is the ceremony held between the fourth and seventh months of pregnancy in which the expectant father combs his wife's hair and expresses his love and support for her. A Seemantham is traditionally held during the seventh month of pregnancy. Similar to a baby shower, it is organized by family members and involves the gift-giving and religious ritual. A prayer to fire is recited to soothe the expectant mother. Light instrumental music is played, and it is believed that this will refine the development of the baby's ears. Jatakarma is the samskar, or sacrament, performed immediately after birth. A mantra is repeated to the child, often having to do with peace and/or the generation of talent. The new father welcomes and blesses his child, and may feed him or her with a small taste of ghee (clarified butter).
Perform the samskar of Namakarana, or naming. Held sometime between the 10th and 41st days of life, this ceremony marks the child's formal entry into his or her sect of Hinduism. Names are chosen according to astrology, and learned persons are consulted in deciding on a name. Names of gods and goddesses are preferable. This tradition is considered a special blessing because you will have the added benefit of remembering the deity each time you say your child's name. Perform the samskar of Anna-prashana when your baby is ready to start solid food. In this ceremony, the child receives his or her first feeding with food previously consecrated by offering it up to the deities.