If you are a parent of an infant who has come of age to have their first solid food then the occasion of Annaprashan is something that you might be familiar with. The term Annaprashan is a Sanskrit word, which literally translates to “grain initiation".
In simple language, it means your baby’s first feeding or first rice-eating ceremony. In parts of Kerala it is called choroonu, while in West Bengal it is called mukhe bhaat, and in the regions of Garhwal Hills it is known as bhaatkhulai.
This month the muhurat for Annaprashan falls on two days: March 15 and March 24. Hindu devotees follow different rituals and rites across the region of the country, but essentially Annaprashan is celebrated as the baby’s transition to consuming solid food items.
Annaprashan can be performed anytime from six months until before their first birthday.
It is performed during the even months for boys, while for girls it is performed during odd months. The rituals are performed either at temples or at homes. Those who perform the ritual at home, contact a priest to help with the religious rites who come to their home. The Annaprashan ceremony is performed on a specific day and time after consulting a priest for the auspicious timings. This year the muhurat for Annaprashan is:
On Monday, March 15, the auspicious timing to conduct the rituals are from 6:31am to 1:44pm. While on Wednesday, March 24, the puja can be conducted from 6:21am to 10:24am.
On this day parents dress their baby in new clothes, preferably traditional clothes. The ritual begins with a puja or a havan praying for the baby’s health and happiness. This is followed by the symbolic feeding of the prasad or the first bite of solid food by the baby.