Annaprashana or Choroon - Introducing Baby To Solid Food Ceremony

While visiting the Sri Krishna Temple in Ambalappuzha, I stumbled on something very interesting. The ceremony of babies eating solid food for the first time. A very exciting experience for the baby and of course, for everyone who watches this ritual. This ceremonious initiation is conducted in Hindu Temples of India, and is especially popular in the state of Kerala.
Above: The mother feeds a few grains of rice to the baby
This ceremony is called Choroonu (from Tamil: Choru =Rice & Oon =Food) or Annaprashana (from Sanskrit: Anna =grains & Prashana=Beginning) . Other popular names for this ceremony are Annapravesham, Mukhebhaat, Choroottu, Annaprasanam, Anna Prashana Vidhi, Annaprasan, etc.
Above: Video of Annaprashana / Choroon Ceremony
The Annaprashana is a three-part ceremony as detailed below:

1. Feeding:
The baby dressed in traditional clothing, is placed on the Father's lap and the priest whispers the baby's name into its ears three times. After blessing the baby and placing a small flower on the baby's head, the priest stands clear. A few grains of boiled rice, Aravana Payasam (sweet gruel) and other soft solid food items are placed on a banana leaf. Some water is fed to the baby to clear its throat, and the Father puts a few grains of rice into the baby's mouth. If the baby eats it without any problems, the mother feeds a few grains and is followed by other relatives. Babies especially like the sweet gruel and you can see them wanting more of it :)

Above: Twin babies are placed on a balance scale. Banana fruits of equivalent weight are donated
2. Donating :
Since the feeding has gone well, it is time to thank God and do an act of kindness to people. The baby is placed on one side of a balance scale. On the other pan, items like sugar or banana fruits are placed until the pans float due to equal weight. These items are then distributed to all the visitors of the temple. This ritual is called "Thulabaaram". This act of donation is supposed to bring good health and prosperity to the child. Some rich parents even donate silver and gold equivalent to the baby's weight!
Above: What will the baby grab? What will it grow up to be?
3. Predicting the baby's future:
The final part of the ceremony is intended to find out what the baby will become. The baby is placed face down on the floor and many objects are placed around it. These objects signify a particular field of interest. Most common items placed around the baby are a knife, a book, a piece of gold jewelry, an earthen pot and a toy.

If the baby touches a knife, it means that he will become a warrior. If he touches a book, he will grow up into a scholar. If he touches jewelry, he will become wealthy. Earthen pot signifies owning land, and toy signifies sportsmanship.

Above: One of them is a crybaby, the other guy is enjoying all the attention!
What an interesting ceremony, huh? I was amazed by how wonderful the Hindu ceremonies are, and how beautiful their culture is.  After the ceremony, I wandered around the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple for a few hours. Anyways, it was time to go back to my houseboat in Alleppey and unwind. Adios!

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