Last week we went to California (where Rishi is from) for Penelope’s Annaprashan. The kids’ annaprashan ceremony is one of my favorite events of their lives (so far ha!). I love the tradition, the dress and time together with Rishi’s family.
In some Indian cultures (Rishi is Bengali), an annaprashan is held to celebrate a child’s first feeding of solid food. I’ve had a ton of people ask about what a rice ceremony is so I thought I’d explain it! I think these are all a little different depending on each family (similar to how everyone celebrates holidays a little different) but this is how we did it with Rishi’s family.
What is an annaprashan?
An annaprashan, or rice ceremony, literally means “the eating of food”. In Bengal, the ceremony is called Mukhe Bhaat, literally means “rice in your mouth”. Rishi’s family seems to use both interchanging.
It is typically done in odd months for girls and even months for boys. We did this ceremony with Roy when he was about 10 months so he had been eating food for a while but since Penelope was just 5.5 months, this was literally her first bite of food!
Nowadays, the rice ceremony has become a big celebration for the family. Since we don’t live in California, many of the people Rishi grew up with come to celebrate! We had about 75 people at both kid’s rice ceremonies. Almost the size of our wedding! 😉
It’s really fun sharing this tradition with some friends and family who are new to annaprashan ceremonies as well. One of my favorite things about marrying someone of a different culture is sharing all of the new things I’m learning and experiencing with other people!
The kid’s clothes came straight from India and are absolutely adorable. We are so grateful for aunts who carefully pick out outfits that are perfect for the kids. They’re
Penelope wore a little mini sari and it was pretty much the cutest thing ever. It’s customary for boys to wear dhoti kurta and for girls to wear a sari or lehenga choli. The saris are super cute because they’re already pre-done so you don’t have to worry about folding and wrapping up a baby!
Penelope also had her face painted with dots of sandalwood paste. Roy had this done as well. Neither one of them liked it ha! Rishi’s aunts were great about mixing everything all up and getting it done.
The ceremony is performed by the child’s maternal uncle or grandfather.
Since my brother and parents couldn’t make it, Rishi’s brother performed the ceremony! And since Rishi’s dad couldn’t make it, we had Rishi’s uncle help as well.
Rishi’s brother, Deb, fed Penelope a spoonful of Payesh, a sweet dessert made with rice, milk & sugar – traditional rice pudding. Traditionally the baby gets 3 spoonfuls of Payesh. Penelope actually did really well and even opened up her mouth for the 2nd and 3rd spoonful! I have a feeling she’ll like food a bit more than Roy does. 🙂
Following the feeding the babies are blessed by family members and elders by placing rice and grass on their head.
Then there is a fun game where Penelope is presented with a tray. On the tray is a variety of things – Penelope had a book, a piece of jewelry, money, a stethoscope, a pen, dirt, a ball. Whatever she picks represents her area of interest in the future. Penelope picked a book (Roy had picked dirt). Apparently a book represents learning while dirt represents property!
And that sums up the ceremony!
After the ceremony ends, everyone eats and interestingly enough, give Penelope gifts. It’s like it’s her birthday party! 🙂 Girls tend to get gifts of jewelry while boys tend to get silver (or at least that what our kiddos got). They also both got tons of eating related items like plates, forks, and cups!
A few tips:
If you’re having an annaprashan ceremony, here are a few tips for success.
- Have people arrive toward the end of your child’s nap time.
- Assuming they will sleep in their stroller or in a room wherever the ceremony is! This way they’ll wake up rested before their big moment.
- Make sure whoever feeds the baby washes their hands.
- The less germs the better!
- Give your baby a bottle before the ceremony.
- They likely won’t actually eat a ton of food so this way they won’t be hungry.
- Have wipes or a towel handy.
- Feeding gets messy! Have something ready for both the baby and those serving them.
So there you have it! A recap of Penelope’s annaprashan ceremony. I hope you learned a thing or two!
Thanks so much for reading!