6. Sep, 2014

The Naming Ceremony

Beneath a glorious late summer sun, perched high in the sky, my kind and unassuming husband and I attended the naming ceremony of a very special child.

     It was the first time we had ever been to such a ceremony but I had heard it was popular around the world. It is considered sacred in Hindu tradition and known as Namakarana Sanskar or Namkaran  and attended by close relatives and friends and carried out on the 11th day after the birth.     

      The paternal aunt has the honor of naming her brothers child in Maharashtra, Bengal, and Rajputs of Gujarat. However, in Kerala, on the 27th day for a baby girl and 28th day for a boy, a gold chain called an aranjanam, and a black thread are tied around their waist. A black spot is placed on one cheek and on the forehead, to ward off evil eyes. Then a mixture of honey and melted and clarified butter is given to the child as a base for future foods.

     But back in the garden where our naming ceremony took place, everyone was asked to place a wish for the child’s future, into a box. Some wished that the child would travel far and wide and others that her life be filled with music. Some wished that she would be blessed with a love of books and a curious and imaginative mind. All in all it was quite an emotional day, which involved a huge picnic and ended in the evening with people sitting in a circle around a fire, playing guitars and singing.

     The box of wishes was eventually closed and would remain so, until the child’s 18th birthday. And along with the wishes, was a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte which her parents read out aloud....


If children live with criticism
they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility
they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule
they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame
they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with tolerance
they learn to be patient.
If children live with encouragement
they learn confidence.
If children live with praise
they learn to appreciate.
If children live with fairness
they learn justice.
If children live with security
they learn to have faith.
If children live with approval
they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendship
they learn to find love in the world.