This is the first post-natal ritual performed immediately after the birth of the child and before the umbilical cord is severed. The essence of this ritual is to prepare the baby to be able to use the five senses independently. Read this article to learn about the auspicious time to conduct it, method to be followed, the science behind this ritual, etc.
The Birth Ceremony (Jatakarma Sanskar) is aimed at welcoming the baby into the world. Traditionally, this ritual was performed right after the birth of a child to check and activate its five sensory organs. This ritual is also an acknowledgement of the child as a separate individual, separate from the mother. Hence, the intention is to pray for the proper growth and development of the child outside the mother’s womb.
In Hindu tradition, this is the fourth important ‘samskara’ (ritual) performed right after the child is born and the first post-natal rite of passage for a new-born baby. Even before the child takes its first milk from its mother, this ritual is performed. When the umbilical cord is severed and the baby is cleaned and wrapped in a cloth, that is the right time to perform this ritual. However, in today’s scenario, when most of the births are taking place in the hospital, it is difficult to perform this ritual right at the hospital. So, it is being performed on the 5th or 6th day of birth after the baby is brought home. A little puja is conducted to commemorate this, which is also known as ‘paanchvi’ and ‘sahavi’ puja.
The father of the child utters a solemn vow (‘sankalp’): ‘I am performing the Jatakarma Samskara for the child for removal of all defects caused by drinking water in the womb and other defects of fetus and pray for the growth of its life and intellect.’
Post this the child is administered a mixture of honey and ghee in a very small quantity, given with the touch of a gold ring so that the essence of the gold is mixed in the mixture. The father should offer this honey mixture to the child by chanting a ‘mantra’ (sacred verse). This mantra which is recited while feeding the mixture of honey to the child is called ‘Madhu Sarpi Prashana Mantra’. After performing this ritual, the baby is handed over to the mother to nurse it.
In the fast-paced times that we live in, several aspects related to this ritual are forgotten. Some of them are listed below.
The sacred verses to be recited by the father after a child emerges from the womb, the covering removed and the child cleaned:
‘Ma Nabhim Kritata Stanyan Ca Ma Datta’
This mantra should be chanted before cutting the cord and feeding breastmilk to the baby.
After that, the father is given the permission to cut the cord and chant this mantra:
‘Nabhim Kritata Stanyan Ca Datta’
The father then chants the below mantra while making the baby lick the ghee and honey mixture using a gold ring:
‘Om Prajapatih Vishnu Rishi
Shri Anato Devata
Brihiyavacurnena Jihva Marjjane Viniyogah
Om Iyam Ajna Idam Annam Idam
Ayuh Idam Ghritam’
The father should then take a bath. A kalash or pot filled with water is placed near the head of the newborn baby by chanting sacred verses.
Through this ritual, the parents introduce the baby’s sensory organs to the new surroundings. A newborn baby perceives the sensory information from the environment, i.e., sound, smell, sight, touch of mother / father at birth and later sound and smell, etc. of other family members.
All these stimuli initiate the memory of the newborn.
The baby responds as per the parent’s emotions, body language and touch. For example: If the parents are lethargic and irritable, the baby may respond with irritability and crying.
Sacred verses recited during this ritual are also a way of stimulating responses to sound in the newborn. The auditory stimulus has the potency to provoke cognitive activities in children. The chanting of the sacred verses also stimulates the brain.
However, to be noted, sound intensity should not exceed more than 75 decibels, or else the newborn will be disturbed and might face hearing loss, physiological and behavioral disturbances as well.
The kalash or pot filled with water helps in removing insufficient heat and moisture in the lower respiratory tract that causes the ciliary cells to stop transporting. It should be kept for 10 days by the baby to help reduce or remove bacterial colonization.