Namakarana Sanskar: The Hindu Naming Ceremony

The traditional Hindu Vedic way of naming a child is known as the Namakarana Sanskar. In Sanskrit, ‘Nama’ means ‘Name’, and ‘Karana’ means ‘create’, thus meaning the Vedic rite of passage ritual to give a baby its baby. It is a happy ritual, which is also one of the traditionally followed Vedic rituals still existent and widespread in today’s world. In fact, this ritual is probably the most highly celebrated and acclaimed among other rituals in the Hindu community. This ritual is one very fulfilling and happy rituals among others, as it celebrates the birth of the baby into this world and gives the baby a=n identity for the world to recognize. Also, since the strenuous and hard period of childbirth has passed till this time, everyone is in a happy mood and looks forward to meet and bless the baby with their choicest blessings.

When is the Namakarana Ceremony held?

Traditionally, the Namakarana Ceremony takes places after the ‘Jatakarma Sanskar’ of the baby is performed, which is a rite of passage celebrating the birth of a child. It is regarded as one of major Sanskars performed after the birth of a child, typically on the tenth or twelfth day after it is born, but this can vary as per different regions and customs followed. This period is actually taken as after this period the mother and the baby are taken for ‘Sutika’ or ‘Shuddhikaran’, wherein both of them are confined to an intensive post-partum or post-natal care. However, this ceremony can be done as per the parents wish, as advised by an astrologer or priest, and can even be delayed to the 101st day or until the baby’s first birthday.

This ceremony is believed to build a bond between the child and the rest of the family, and thereby is regarded as a highly auspicious occasion for the baby. Since nowadays, a baby is generally born in the hospital, and people do not generally take part in frequent elaborate rituals, so, the ‘Jatakarma’ and ‘Namakarana’ ceremony is held together within a few weeks or days after a child is born.

The Traditional Hindu Ritual of Namakarana

On the day of the Sanskar, the infant is bathed by the mother and then dressed in new clothes to get ready for the ritual. The next step comes as the formal name is selected by that day, which is then announced in the presence of everyone. This ritual solemnizes the child as an individual, thus giving him/her identity, and is thus accepted and socialized by everyone present there.

The ritual for the Namakarana Sanskar starts with the parents of the child doing Pranayama, offering prayers, and chanting Vedic mantras, in the presence and guidance of a priest. At this time, the Father writes the chosen name on the rice grains spread on a bronze thali or plate, using a gold stick. He then whispers the name into the right ear of the child, all the while reciting a prayer and repeating it three to four times. The priest than lets the others repeat hymns and shlokas after him, to formally let everyone accept the name of the child.

If the father of the child is not there, the Grandfather or Uncle of the child can perform the ritual. The Priest then offers prayers to the God of fire, Agni, the elements, and spirits of the baby’s ancestors, all of it being a part of the ritual.

The ritual is followed by the blessings of the elders for the child, along with the presenting of gifts. The rite of passage ceremony also includes the family astrologer presenting the child’s birth Horoscope. After this, the feasting part of the ceremony follows, arranged by the baby’s parents for their friends, relatives, and other family members who have come to convey their best wishes to the baby.

The Selection of an Appropriate name for the Baby

There are a number of divergent guidelines for parents given in the ancient Sanskrit texts, which provide help to choose an appropriate name for a child.

The ancient Sanskrit texts gave the convention that a boy’s names is of typically tow or four syllables, and the girl’s name is typically of an odd number of syllables. The words whose meanings were negative, bad, or evil, and easily connected to evil mythological characters or demons, need to be avoided strictly. The names of a deity, stars, constellation, or anyone who is known for his good deeds, should be preferred. Derivatives of the Father’s name or Mother’s name, beautiful elements of nature, place of birth, etc., are also regarded to be apt for naming a baby.

Vedic Way of Naming a Baby

In the Vedic culture and Hindu tradition, Vedic Astrology plays a very significant role right after the birth of a baby. The birth horoscope of a baby is prepared after the baby takes birth, and it is also used in naming the baby, as it is considered auspicious. The initial letter is considered auspicious so as to name a baby, and in order to determine the initial letter of a child’s name, there are five general principles that are taken into account, according to Vedic Astrology :

  • The 'Janm Nakshatra' or Birth Nakshatra of the child
  • The 'Masanam' or month when the child is born
  • The 'Devatanama' or the family deity
  • The 'Rashinama' or naming the child according to the Zodiac signs the child is born under
  • The 'Samsarikanama' or a named given as per the worl. This name is an exception to all the above points.

Having letters in even numbers (2,4,6,..) in case of a boy, and letters adding up to odd numbers (3,5,7,..) in case of naming a girl, has traditionally been considered as the most auspicious; but an eleven (11) lettered name is considered auspicious for both the genders.

As given above, Hindus believe in selecting a name for their child as per his or her Birth Nakshatra calculated by a Vedic Astrologer, during the Namakarana ceremony.

If you want to get help regarding naming your child or want to ascertain the birth Nakshatra of your child, we would be more than happy to help!