By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
The name for a child is given by the family, amidst rituals, celebrations and functions conducted in ceremonious procedures. This ceremony of naming and giving an identity to a child is called as Namakarana Samskara.
Namakarana = naming
Samskara = ceremony / ritual
It is one among the 16 most popular ceremonies conducted along the timeline of a person’s life, from birth to death.
Purpose of Namakarana Samskara
Sage Shankha in Shankha Smriti mentions the purpose of namakarana samskara. He states that the father (any other elder in the family) must initiate the connection of his child with the kula – clan, devatas – Gods and nakshatra – star constellation.
Connection with clan – The given name helps to establish the connection of the child with his or her family or clan. The name or the surname should explain the family from which he or she comes from.
Connection with God – The name of the child should connect to the God or God belonging to the star constellation. When the name is called out it should give a divine feel.
Connection with the stars – When the name of the child is related to and is identifiable with the star constellation in which the child is born, it helps in understanding the basic nature of a person since the characteristics of the child are believed to be in sync with the characteristics of the related star constellation.
When these factors are not considered while naming the child, it will lead to confusions and bizarre identities.
Impact of Namakaran
Naming ceremony influences the child in many ways. It forms his / her personality and also develops and nurtures the personality.
Faces and appearances can change with age, and names keep constant. It not only influences his personality but also influences the society in which he or she lives. The prosperity of one’s name depends on how he presents himself in terms of words, deeds and gestures and also on the ways in which he influences the society with his presence and actions.
The choice of the name for the child should be proper and appropriate. Else he or she would be constantly bullied or humiliated by name in the society. This would have a strong negative impact on his or her life which includes being hurt mentally, sensually and emotionally. This may also lead to inferiority complexes in the children even as they grow up.
Good name on the other hand bestows happiness, comfort and self-confidence in the child.
Therefore in the Indian / Hindu culture, naming the child is not just a formality but is indeed a celebration and is conducted amidst family, friends and well wishers in the form of a ceremony. This is for the welfare, well being and health of the child.
When is the naming ceremony conducted?
Naming ceremony of the child is probably done on the 10th or 12th day following the birth of the child. Some people also do it on the 100th day and some others after the child has completed 1 year. This ceremony as already said is conducted amidst grand celebration. It used to be that way in the past and many families follow the same old customs and traditions even today. This is also a way to share the information of birth of a child with family and friends and also a ritual wherein the child would obtain good wishes and blessings from elders.
Smrtis of Manu, Vyasa and Shankha opine that this ceremony should be done on 10th or 12th day. 11th, 16th or 18th day are also considered to be auspicious. It shall be ideally done on an auspicious tithi – date, nakshatra – star and muhurta – time period.
Master Vyasa opines this ceremony shall be conducted after 1 month, 100 days or even after one year following the birth of the child.
According to Garga Smriti, the ceremony shall be performed during the first half of the day without any compromise.
On the same day of the naming ceremony, the mother is given a ritual bath following the customs and traditions of the family.
The baby is also given a bath. Later its body is anointed with perfumed pastes which are also made up of protective herbs. Master Vagbhata specifically mentions the use of the below mentioned ingredients in this paste –
Manashila – purified realgar
Haratala – Arsenic trisulfide
Agaru – Aquilaria agallocha
The father should give a well thought and figured out name arising from his core emotions to his child.
How are names given to the children?
As per tradition, a minimum of 4 names should be given to the child in the naming ceremony.
1st name – that of family deity
2nd name – is based on the lunar month in which the child is born. There are 12 lunar months in the Hindu calendar. One deity presides over each month.
3rd name – is the name of the nakshatra – star, name based on the star constellation in which the child is born. The beginning alphabet of the child’s name shall be decided upon the star.
4th name – is the vyavahara nama – the official name, the name by which the child will be called for life.
There may also be a 5th name – a secret name given by the family to their child.
In some families the child is named giving the emphasis on varna i.e. class to which the family belongs to. This is not in practice these days. Here children of Brahmins are given names which denote auspiciousness, Kshatriyas – names which describe strength, Vaishyas – names indicating wealth and Shudras – the names which describe service.
Elsewhere the ceremonies include placing the child on a new bed, performing auspicious rituals which purify the place and the people who are performing the ceremonies, offering prayers for growth of the clan, offerings to the ancestors and seek their blessings, fire sacrifices to please the planets praying them to safeguard and protect their child, fire sacrifices to pay oblations to Agni, Indra, Prajapati, Vishwadeva and Lord Brahma.
After these rituals, the father (sometimes both patents) whisper the chosen name into the right ear of their child three times. Along with the child, the parents would take the blessings of the elders. Food is later served to everyone including the priests who have conducted the ceremonies.
Things to be remembered by the father while naming the child
Pujyam – The name shall be auspicious and superior.
Tripurushanukam – The name of the child should resemble the names of people belonging to one of the previous three generations in the family. This means to say that the name of the child should be similar to or same as or bearing a part of the name of either his / her father, grandfather or great-grandfather.
Aadau ghoshavad aksharam – The first alphabet of the name should be ‘ghosha – a vowel’. This makes it easy to call the name of the child.
Avruddham – The name should not be too big / long. This will cause discomfort in calling the name of the child. Therefore the name should be short and sweet enough to call.
Ushmantam – The name should end with the alphabets of ushma varga i.e. sha, Sha, sa and ha (श, ष, स, ह).
Anarati pratishtitam – The name of the child should not resemble that of his / her father’s enemy or anyone who is popular amongst his enemies.
Nakshatra devata yuktam – Name should be that of a star or god or bear a part of their name. Other opinions say that the name of the child should be in accordance with the star constellation in which he or she is born or the God governing / associated with that star. There are 27 stars mentioned in the Hindu calendar and each star is associated with a divinity. They are as below enlisted.
|Sl No||Name of the Nakshatra / Star||Name of the Devata / God|
|5||Mrgashirsha / Margashira||Soma|
|14||Chitra / Chitta||Twashta|
Mangalyamantarantastham – The name ends with auspicious antastha varna alphabets. They are – ya, ra, la and va (य, र, ल, व).
Pumso visarjaniyantam – Name of male child should end with visarga – colon (:) like sign in Devanagiri script.
Things to be remembered while naming a girl child
Vishama Akshara – Name of the female child should have an odd number of alphabets.
Akrura – The name should not sound cruel.
Vispashtartham – should reflect its meaning in a clear way.
Manoramam – should be attractive.
Sukhodhyam – should be easy to pronounce
Deerghavarnantam – should end with a long vowel. It should not have compound vowels or compound words.
Ashirvadaabhidhaanavat – should reflect the essence of blessing and good wishes. When the name is called it should appear as if the words of good wishes or blessings are spelt out.
Additional points which should be taken care of…!
From the point of view of the child, he or she likes such names which are not different from those of their friends and are not strange enough!
Names should be such that they cannot be bullied easily. Some names look cute and good in childhood but when the child grows up they might feel that their name doesn’t sync with their personality, especially when people start bullying them by their name even in their adolescent and adult life.
Therefore the parents should select such a name for their children that the names truly define their personality, giving them comfort, happiness and glory and the name they have given their children would make a big name for their children as they grow up, in every front of their life.
Therefore naming the child is as equal to giving birth to a child and giving them an identity and personality. Therefore it should be handled with care and responsibility.
The ceremonies are conducted to name the child only with these multi-dimensional approaches apart from being a ritual of celebration.
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