Marathi Culture and Festivals

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Sola Sanskar: सोळा संस्कार 

Sanskar/ संस्कार: Hindu Dharma prescribes 16 specific rites and rituals – known as Sanskar - to mark the passage through the different stages of one’s life and is the frame work for leading a Dharmic life of spiritual and moral duty.

These Sanskars are performed to bestow good values for the mental, physical, behavioral, and spiritual balance and progress of an individual. They are performed to infuse values and qualities to make a human being more dynamic, duty conscious towards himself, family and society. Sanskars give a spiritual touch to the important events at different stages of a Hindu life - right from pre-birth to post-death.

There are 16 of such religious ceremonies called ‘सोळा संस्कार’


1. Grabhaadhan: गर्भाधान  Conception
2. Punsavana: पुंसंवन Fetus protection
3. Simantonnayan :सीमंतोन्नयन  To satisfy wishes of the pregnant Mother
4. Jaat-Karmaa: जातकर्म Childbirth 
5. Naamkaran: नामकरण  Naming Child
6. Nishkramana: निष्क्रमण Taking the child outdoors
7. Annaprashana:अन्नप्राशन  Giving the child solid food.
8. Javal : जावळ: Hair cutting.
9. Karnavedh:कर्णवेध :Ear piercing
10. Upanayan  उपनयन : Sacred thread
11. Vedarambh: वेदारंभ Study of Vedas and Scriptures
12. Samaavartana:समावर्तन : Completing education
13. Vivaah:  विवाह Marriage
14.Vanprastha:  वानप्रस्थ : Preparing for Renouncing
15. Sanyas (Awasthadhyan):  सन्यास ; Renouncing
16. Antyeshti: अंत्येष्टी : Last rite, or funeral rites


We will go over them one at a time. We can discuss the relevance and the scientific base they have in the 21st century and beyond – these Sanskars have been practiced by Hindus for thousands of year.  Please do participate in the blog forum to interpret these Sanskars for our current era. 


Upanayan sanskar: मुंज संस्कार 


The meaning of Upanayana: Upa + Nayan = something which can take one to his Guru. It is only after the Yagnopavit Samskar is performed that the boy can go to a Guru to study the Vedas.

 The word Upanayan consists of two words, upa and nayan. ‘Upa’ means near and ‘nayan’ means to take towards. In short, Upanayan means taking to the Guru (teacher), who will teach the Gayatri mantra. Nayan also means ‘the eye’.Upanayan thus means the inner vision (antarchakshu). Therefore that rite which facilitates the development of inner vision is called Upanayana. Vratabandha is that rite by which one is bound by restrictions of vowed religious observances (vrat), norms of Righteousness (Dharma) and celibacy. Before that, there are no restrictions on the child’s behaviour. 


Upanayana is also named Munja after the grass ‘munja’ which is tied to the waist during the rite.

The one on whom the rite is being performed is called a batu, munjamani, brahmachari, etc.


. Yagnopavit is also called "Janeu" जानवं  In the AtharvaVeda, Upanayana is mentioned in connection with bachelorhood.

Rishi Apastamba and Bharadwaj consider education to be the objective of Upanayana Sanskar.

Upanayana is the Sanskar performed according to the Shrutis on the person willing to learn.

Originally, Upanayan was only a conceptual performance of Sanskar, and the actual instruction of accepting the celibacy for learning by the Acharya was of secondary importance, but later, as the actual performance of this Sanskar became more and more important, the ritual part of it has now become the most important.


Every human being is born a Shudra, that is he just learns how to clean himself physically. However, by performing rites (karma) he is reborn (dvij). ‘Dvi’ means two, that is second time and ‘j’ means to be born. Since due to the thread ceremony the boy has a kind of rebirth he is said to become twice born (dvij). The second birth of a celibate (brahmachari) is marked by the rite of the thread ceremony. It is symbolized by wearing a girdle of munja grass. In this birth, Savitri is supposed to be his mother and Acharya (the teacher) his father. (Manusmruti 2.170). Once he becomes twice born he becomes worthy of chanting the Gayatri mantra, that is qualified to do spiritual practice; hence performing the thread ceremony is very important.


Apararka, the critic of ‘Yajnavalkya’ writes that the word Upanayan represents the link between the pupil and the Gayatri mantra and is established through the medium of the Guru (Yadnyavalkyasmruti 1.14, Apararka’s definition).

According to ‘Ashvalayan Gruhyasutra’ (1.19), this rite is to be performed during the eighth year in a Brahman (priest), the eleventh year in a Kshatriya (warrior) and the twelfth year in a Vaishya (businessman). 19 year for Shudra [ laborer]


In the ancient times there was a practice of performing the thread ceremony (Upanayan) in girls as well. A mention of this is made in the Kurma Purana as

पुराकल्‍पे हि नारीणां मौञ्‍जीबन्‍धनमीरितम्‌ ।

Meaning: In ancient times (kalpa) thread ceremony for women was recommended.

Even today followers of the Arya Samaj perform the thread ceremony (Upanayan) on girls.

A general guide to Upanayan Celebrations:


MUHURT : मुहूर्त:

To mark the beginning of the ceremonies, on an earlier day, it is customary to invite five ladies and to prepare Turmeric powder with their help.(Turmeric has medicinal value; this paste is applied to Batu on the day prior to Upanayan). 


Muhurt Vade   मुहूर्तवडे :

Papad and Sandage are prepared; which are used for ceremonial lunch –Grah shanti lunch ग्रह शांती जेवण


The entire Upanayan programme is  spread over a span of two days:


First day:

DEV DEVAK : देव देवक
Invocation of God.  The family deity and other deities are invited to witness and bless the entire Upanayan ceremony. Popularly called founding 
HALAD:हळद
 Turmeric paste (prepared on the earlier day ) is applied over Batu’s body before his bath. This is to prevent evil forces acting on him.
GRIHA SHANTI: ग्रह शांती
The various planets are worshipped as also sub-planets
SUVASINI PUJAN: सुवासिनी पूजन
 Five married ladies from maternal side are honored by offering coconut, ornament and sweets.
GADEGNAR or KELVAN: गडगनेर -केळवण
The Batu is honoured with coconut and sweets.  Family does a special decoration around his plate

 

The second day: दुसरा दिवस

ABHYANGSNAN: अभ्यंग स्नान 

Everybody including Batu take proper bath at residence. (assumed that other ceremonies are held in a different place called hall). Thereafter all move to the hall.

CHOUL KARMA: चौल कर्म 

With proper mantra the barber carries out chudakarma or choul karma. (Jaawal is done much earlier in life; but as a Sanskar it is done now. The barber shaves off all the hair except for a small pony tail in the back called shendi: शेंडी


The importance of tail of hair: शेंडी

The tail of hair at the posterior surface of head symbolizes

Concentration on the medulla. The medulla is the

most essential part of our body. It is present in the

posterior surface of the head and is also known as

“kutastha kendra” or “Mouth of God

The medulla works like an antenna

attracting the subtle life-force from the

astral world into oneself. When we increase

concentration on the medulla, we attain the

power of prophet-consciousness

.

MATRUBHOJAN : मातृभोजन 

As the name suggests the Batu takes meal from mother. It is supposed to signify that now for the last time the mother feeds the son.

The Batu sits on the mother’s lap and the loving mother virtually feeds the sweets etc. with her own hands. Same age other boys  accompany the Batu surrounded by a host of ladies. They also  feed the Batu or rather would consider it as an honour. So they do it  turn by turn. . The ladies of the family sing Matrubhojan song. 

.

MANGALASHTAK: मंगलाष्टक 

Batu wearing  Mundavali[ मुंडावळी ] stands on one side and father stands on the other side of the  Antarpat as the name suggests is held in between. The priest starts the first mangalashtak followed by other women who wants to sing.

The batu and father exchange the garland.

The mother is not supposed to attend this ceremony { Antarpat} as that time she is supposed to pray to god in a separate room for well being of her son and his future. There is no  implied scriptural meaning behind this but on practical grounds, this use to be the moment when it would have been  very hard for a mother to realize that her son is now going away for a few years from home and to make sure she does not get emotional and stops him.


Matru miravnuk: आई ची मिरवणूक

Hence the mother is not present for mangalashtak and akshata the women of the family brings her to batu with a red- carpet  [पाय घड्या ] honor so she can give blessings to her son.


 YAGNA – HOM होम 

Yagna means purification, Yagna means a river of alms, Yagna means a flame of valour destroying evil forces. The reverberations rising from the recitation of Mantras during the Yagna electrify living as well as non living matters. Such is the power of the Yagna. A miniature of Yagna is kindled in the Upanayan  it is called Hom. Small size firewood and ghee are the main offerings. Cooked rice is also offered.

A number of processes are now carried out by giving offerings in the Hom involving Batu, priest and father.

YAGNOPAVITAM DHARANAM.

According to Hindu Sanskar of purifying, rubbing, cleansing or removing impurities before inculcating noble qualities in the Batu, a yagnopavit is worn around  the shoulder. This is to signify that he would now committed to discipline, austerity and sincere studies. Yagnopavit is three strand thread with three knots. The three strandsare to signify three Vedas. The Yagnopavit is purified by Gayatri recitation ten times.


AJINA ( LEATHER MADE FROM SKIN OF DEER ) DHARANAM

A leather is given to Batu, for strength & stamina building, success, etc.

Savita, Sun worship : This is the  prayer to please God Sun.

Hrudaya Labham:  This Batu clad in appropriate clothes & covered by the leather sheet having entered second life is proceeding to higher studies. Let him behonoured with higher education. Let the Rishis and Yogis assist him to transcend.


GAYATRI DIKSHA

In a certain posture under a cover the  father gives the Diksha. First Batu requests then priest narrates one by one,  Thus the complete Mantra is narrated to the Batu.

Now Batu has to recite this Mantra every day, at least for eleven times, in clear and loud pronunciation. 


DANDAPRADANA

Stick of Palash is given to Batu with appropriate Mantra. He says let my ugly qualities be killed by the stick. Also I be protected if offended from any direction.


MEDHAJANAN

Medha means memory. It is considered right time (the Upanayan) to do this Sanskar on the Batu. A small branch of Palash tree is worshipped in this ceremony. Batu now prays : Oh great Palash tree, you are strong, make me strong like you; you keep hearing & remembering all the happenings in this world. Make my memory also similar to yours. Rishi Angiras, the seven Rishis, Indra, Agniand Brahmadeo you all give me superior memory so that it will help me remember my studies. Saraswati Devi give me a sharp memory.


BHIKSHAWAL--- COLLECTING ALMS AND FOOD

In the ancient time the Batu would now on live on alms collected called MADHUKARI माधुकरी  and carry out his studies. In the present times this process is more of pomp. Batu takes a small bag made from a cloth, rod in one hand, asks mother, OM BHAVATI BHIKSHAN DEHI; Oh mom give me food to carry during my journey toKashi (Varanasi). Specially made ladus are given by the mother along with Dakshina. Then he goes round and various people mainly all the ladies around to get the bhiksha.


KASHI YATRA

Voyage to Kashi. These days with plenty of opportunities close by Batu does not have to go to Kashi. Instead they go to nearby temple. In some households, they arrange a big procession. Maternal uncle stops him and tells him, oh please do not go I shall give my daughter to you after your studies. ( This does not happen ) .

Maternal uncle give him white pajama-kurta [ any set of cloths] and bring him back.


Janeu/ janva /yadnyopavit

Yadnyopavit is a word consisting of two words, yadnya and upavit. Vit means that which is woven, that is cloth and upavit means the upper garment. One is born naked. Then the baby is kept wrapped in one garment. Till the thread ceremony is performed the boy can remain clad in one garment. The use of the upper garment begins after the thread ceremony. After the thread ceremony one garment refers to the loin cloth (langoti) and the second (upper) garment to the sacred thread (janave) which is in a way a condensed form of the shawl on the shoulder (uparne).

The sacred thread is made up of nine fibres. One deity is established in each fibre as follows. 1. Omkar, 2. Agni (deity of fire), 3. Nag (serpent), 4. Som (moon), 5. Pitar (ancestors), 6. Prajapati (deity of procreation), 7. Vayu (air), 8. Yama (deity of death) and 9. Vishvadevata (deity of the universe). 

Three strands are created by twisting three of the nine fibres in each strand. The three Vedas - Rugveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda are established on each of these strands. Three fibres are woven into one strand and the three strands are then knotted together. This knot is called the Brahmagatha (gatha means a knot) or the Brahmagranthi (granthi means a gland). [The knot of sacred grass (darbha) tied to a gold ring (pavitrak) is also called a Brahmagranthi.] It is the site of establishing the Atharvaveda. This knot is extremely important and one requires skill to tie it. The three strands represent the three stages (ashrams) - celibate student (brahmacharya), the married householder (gruhastha) and retired householder (vanaprastha); the three fires, the fire worshipped in the home (garhapatya), the fire placed in the south (dakshinagni) and the sacred fire lit for a specific spiritual purpose (ahvaniya) as well as spiritual knowledge (dnyan), devotion (bhakti) and action (karma). The one who possesses all these three qualities gets the spiritual experience of Brahman. Based on 96 items listed below, the length of the sacred thread should be 96 times the breadth of a finger (angul).

Meaning: 15 auspicious dates (tithis) + 7 days of the week + 27 lunar asterisms + 25 principles + 4 Vedas + 3 components (gunas) + 3 time periods (kals) + 12 months = 96. Thus, the length of the sacred thread (yadnyopavit) is 96 times the breadth of a finger (angul).

In the Shaiva sect, the three strands of the sacred thread represent the three horizontal lines of holy ash (tripundra) on the forehead of Lord Shankar which symbolize spiritual knowledge (dnyan), purity and penance (tapashcharya). The Brahmagathindicates the origin of these three, that is divine consciousness (chaitanya).

The celibate (brahmachari) and ascetic (yati) should wear one and the married householder (gruhastha) and the retired householder (vanaprasthi) should wear two sacred threads. One thread indicates that an ascetic and a celibate are concerned only with their own spiritual progress while two threads in the married householder and the retired householder indicate that they are also responsible for the spiritual progress of their wives besides their own.


The Gayatri Mantra taught by the Acharya during a Yajnopavit: Om Bhurbhuva Swah, Om tatsaviturvarenyam Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Dhiyoyonah Prachodayat.

ॐ भूर्भुव: स्‍व: तत्‍सवितुर्वरेण्‍यं भर्गो देवस्‍य धीमही धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्‌ ।


The focal point of the whole Upanayana ceremony is the recitation of the Gayatri Mantra and teaching its essence to the initiated. The Mantra is considered to be the most sacred and according to Manu `there is nothing more exalted than the Gayatri'. 
  
 Om tat savitur varenyam 

bhargo devasya dhimahi 
dhiyo yonah prachodayat

"This original `Gayatri Mantra', which is also known as ~Savitri", is a Rigvedic hymn (RV III,62- 10) which usually is preceded by the recitation of the `Om Bhur, Bhuvah Svah' which upon translation connotes:

Om bhur bhuvah svah 
tat savitur varenyam

That splendid magnificence of Savitre, the Cosmic Sun permeating the three worlds, the Earth, the Space and the Heavens is assuredly Savitri; the inspirer, life giver, the stimulative force".

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

"May we meditate on the life giving divinity, Savitri assuredly is God, and therefore I meditate on his splendor".

dhiyo Yonah prachodayat

May He himself illumine our intelligence. May He himself breath it into us".


Relevance of upanayana sankar and gaytri mantra in current era:


When one want to acquire knowledge, one has to undergo a specific training and follow a discipline. This sanskar initiates and prepare a child to be ready to adopt to a specific discipline, gain knowledge in all respects of life and to become a responsible and balanced person.

The secret of the supernatural impact of Gayatri Mantra in the physical domains of life lies in the unique configuration of the specific syllables of the mantra. The cyclic enunciation of this mantra stimulates the subliminal power centers in the subtle body. The pressure on tongue, lips, vocal cord, palate and the connecting regions in the brain generated by continuous enunciation of the twenty-four special syllables of the Gayatri Mantra creates a resonance (or a vibration) in the nerves and the ‘threads’ of the subtle body. The musical flow thus induced titillates the extrasensory energy centers. The latter begin to stimulate and a sublime magnetic force arouses in the Sadhaka that attracts the vital currents of Gayatri Shakti immanent in the infinite domains. This magnetic charge induced by the continuous repetition of the Gayatri Mantra ‘attunes’ the seeker’s mind to link with these supernatural power-currents."


We seek yoga, meditation, breathing exercises later in life due to stress related mental and physical ailments , wouldn't it be nice if we start these practices earlier from childhood? 



Nishkraman, Annaprashnna and Chudakarm: निष्क्रमण , अन्नप्राशन, आणि चूडाकर्म 


Next three sanskars are Nishkraman , annprashnna and chudakarm.


Nishkraman: After name ceremony, the baby and mother still kept in an isolated environment and the comfort of home. After 40 days of birth, the family members take mom and baby out of the house, they usually take them to the temple and then they are free to go out and get adjusted to the outer environment.

Now for people living in India or the countries where the temples are crowded, just find the ones which are less crowded in order to protect the baby from catching any airborne disease.


Some communities does this ceremony after three or four months from the birth of the baby.  On the day of the Nishkramana, a square area in the courtyard from where sun can be seen is plastered with cow dung and clay and the sign of svastika is marked on it. The mother of the child scatters grains of rice over it,and the ceremony ends when the father makes the child look at the sun with the sound of the conch-shell and the chanting of Vedic hymns.


Annaprashanna: This sanskar is performed after seven or eight months of the birth of baby. Up until this age baby is breast fed or formula fed only. It’s a small ceremony in itself. The baby sits in a high chair or in the lap and offered rice- kheer [rice pudding] as his/ her first meal. Some people also have a family get-together and put rangoli and decoration around baby’s plate. Right after this ceremony, parents can start introducing semi solid food first and gradually the regular food.


Chudakarm: The other name for this is “ javal” जावळ or mundan ceremony. This means the first hair cutting for the baby. This sanskar is done on the baby before three years of age. In India they invite barbar at home for first hair cutting. But in other countries parents need to take the baby to the barbar . they perform aukshan [ arti] to the baby after hair cutting.

This sanskar is developed for the reasons of physical hygiene.It is believed to have the power to cleanse the body and soul. The hair on a child's head when he emerges from the womb is considered impure and must be shaved off to make way for the strong, clean hair that grows thereafter. Chudakarana is also a symbolic release of the child from his mother. Usually by three, the child is no longer being nursed by the mother, and is no longer physically dependent on her. During the Chudakarana, even the hair that he was born with is removed. 


Jat karma and Namkaran: जातकर्म आणि नामकरण 


 Jaat-Karm

Jaat-karma performed on six or after 11 days from the birth of a child, is for the purification of the house. This is done in order to keep a child in a clean atmosphere where he may not incur any physical or mental problems. It is also called Shashthi. Goddess Shashthi is the protector of children. Jaat-karma is followed with Graha Puja, Homa.


Jatakarma is the rite of passage to celebrate the successful arrival of another human being in this world.

This is performed at birth.   ‘Om’ is symbolically written on the tongue of the newborn with Ghee & Honey.  Also to utter in the ear of the newborn “Twam Vedo Asi” which means, “you are a being of wisdom & knowledge.” Purpose of this sanskar is make the child safe, to invoke God and parental promise to guide the child so that he/she will follow the path of spiritualism/dharma.


  • Now a day’s baby is usually under medical observation right after birth so jat karma sanskar is done with namkaran sanskar.

 

 Namkaran

This ceremony is performed to give a sacred name to the child, assigned according to the 212 divisions of 27 Nakshatra and the position of the moon at the time of child's birth. An appropriate name is given to the child according to the star of birth, and the first letter of the name is taken from the Hora Shastra.


The sages and scholars have suggested different ages to select a name for the child. They consider the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, sixteen day, one month or one year after the birth, the right time. It was forbidden to name a child based on an aspect of the Moon, river, mountain, birds, trees, snakes, etc. There was never any instance in India to name persons according to caste or community. The ancients have considered it a Rite of Passage as they recognized the importance of a name. The name stays with a person lifelong. A name is a convergence of letters and syllables.  Significance of name is to create a positive perception. 


.  Purpose of name is not only to address an individual, but also to present a purpose before the child.  Names should not be difficult to pronounce.  In USA, we have to name the child before discharge from the hospital, which makes it very difficult sometimes to give an appropriate name.  In this Sanskar, after Swishtkrit Aahuti, oblations (Aahuti) are offered for the harmonious development of a child.  The essence of these oblations is “O Child you may have a long life, you be learned, religious, famous, industrious, glorious, charitable & prosperous”.


The name ceremony is also called ‘Barsa” बारसं. The family members decorate the cradle or bassinet with flowers and balloons. As per our traditions, Baby’s mom whispers the name in baby’s ears and then declares the name to all relatives and friends. Baby’s grand moms put the baby in the cradle and they say each other “ Gopal ghya ani Govind ghya” गोपाळ घ्या आणि गोविंद घ्या “ After this, family and relatives perform “ aukshan- arti to baby along with baby’s parents and shower them with gifts.

The reason of doing this ceremony after 12 days and thereafter is to give new born baby and mother time to heal and keep them in a peaceful and healthy environment. Even in today’s era, it does make sense to refrain from socializing with your newborn baby in order to protect him or her and the mother from catching any airborne diseases.


On second thought all these done for baby and mother so mother feels secure and happy being surrounded by her immediate relatives. This helps her overcome her postpartum blues. Isn't this is so amazing that all these sanskars has some scientific base to it!


There is a tradition to keep " सोयर "  "Soyar"  for ten days in the household where the baby is born. This means they do not perform any puja during this period. Again the logic behind this is to give full attention  and service to new born baby and her mother.


Garbhadhan: गर्भाधान / Garbh Sanskar

Garbh sanskar/ गर्भ संस्कार: Getting ready for pregnancy. It is very important to get ready to conceive. Both Mother and Father to be should be in good health, and emotional status. Now a day’s doctors advise to be mothers to take folic acid supplements to avoid any birth defects. "If women are provided with expert guidance during pregnancy and the early years of their children, it will have an immense impact on society."

 It is an astonishing way of teaching good things to the unborn baby in womb during pregnancy. Though it sounds surprising, it is a scientifically proven fact. The literal meaning of word garbh is womb and sanskar is teaching good or right things. Garbh sanskars should be performed by mother during pregnancy.

Acording to Ayurveda it includes Traditional diet planning, the use of herbal preparations, yoga, music, behavioural suggestions, and medicines are all used in harmony. The idea is to enhance every aspect of the mother's life. Ideally, preparations should start at least a year before conception. Garbha Sanskar covers pregnancy, childbirth and guides parents until the child is two years old. Parents who have followed these instructions say their babies are able to hold their heads up, turn on their side and begin speaking earlier than other babies. They sleep soundly for several hours and have far fewer health concerns than their peers. In some cases, they show extra-ordinary development.

During pregnancy

Ancient descriptions of fetal development are surprisingly accurate. A month-by-month diet that supports every development and health tonics are advised to keep up strength and provide essential nutrients. Yoga and oiling the body is a must.

It finds a place in traditional ayurvedic medicine as a guide for pregnant women in prenatal education. It is believed that practicing Garbha sanskar will result in a well-balanced and healthy baby. 

The popularity of garbh sanskar is also because researchers have proved its relevance and importance in the development of the child. There are scientific evidences that prove that a baby inside the mother’s womb responds to the outside stimulus and has the ability to listen. Doctors and experts also believe that there is a significant effect of the hormonal secretions that are activated by the thoughts of a mother on the unborn baby.


Simantonayan/ Dohal jevan/ Baby Shower:

This sanskar performed in the 7th month of pregnancy. All women in the family and friend circle get-together and perform this sanskar on pregnant woman. They offer her fresh flower ornaments, new clothes and a variety of food, along with haldi- kumkum, coconut and rice grains. This is called “ Oti Bharne” ओटी भरणे”

This all is done towards making pregnant woman happy and give her assurance that she is not alone, she is been supported by her friends and family during a huge change in her body, and emotional status.


Step by step instructions on oti Bhrne “ओटी भरणे “

  1. Offer a comfortable sitting to the pregnant woman either on the floor [ on a mat or asan ] or on the chair.
  2. Give her a nice piece of cloth to put on her lap over her saree pallu.
  3. Aply haldi-kum kum on the forehead
  4. Now take the green sari with blouse piece [ to be gifted to the mother] put some rice on it and over the rice put a coconut .
  5. Now using both the hands, offer this sari , rice and coconut and put these things on her lap.
  6. Now offer her five fruits along with some rice using both the hands. Offer one fruit at a time. [ all fruits are ok except the “ Sita fal” [ सीताफळ custard apple ]
  7. Now offer her different variety of food.


Surprisingly this sanskar is similar to the ‘baby shower’ in western culture. Family and friends arrange a party for pregnant woman and shower her with all the baby items she needed right after her delivery.


Garbha sanskar can be traced back to ancient Hindu texts like the Vedas which date to 1500-500 BC. It also finds reference in the Mahabharata which was written roughly around 400 BC. 

Indian mythology is full of Garbh sanskar stories that illustrate the power of Garbha sanskar. Here are some of the best known: 


Abhimanyu 


One of the most famous and well-known tales is that of Abhimanyu from the Mahabharata. When Arjuna's wife was pregnant with their son Abhimanyu, he told her about how to break into a  Chakravyuh, a particular war formation. When Abhimanyu became a young man and a warrior in the Kurukshetra war, he remembered his father's story. He was able to employ the strategy that he had heard his father tell his mother while he was in her womb. 

Prahlad 

The story of Prahlad is from the Puranas. Prahlad was born into a family of demons who were wreaking havoc on the Gods in heaven. His mother listened to devotional prayers and stories about Lord Vishnu while he was in her womb. As a result, he became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He stood by good and renounced all evil. This led to the downfall of his demon father's evil empire. 

Lord Hanuman 

Lord Hanuman's mother Anjana was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. When she was pregnant she ate a blessed dessert meant to produce divine children. Lord Hanuman was thus born with divine powers. He dedicated his life to fighting evil and was loyal to Ram and Sita.