Saturday, 20 June 2015

Nishkramana(first outing of newborn) - 6th Shodasa Samskara

Impressions in the child’s mind are formed based on what we see and hear in this world. Nishkramana is the first outing of the child where it is shown good and auspicious symbols. This is usually done after the first month the child is born. The child is taken for a visit to the temple and shown the moon at night.

According to the Grihyasutras and the Smritis   this Samskara may take place either in the third or in the fourth month after the birth. Hindu scriptures say: "The ceremony of looking at the Sun should be performed in the third, and that of looking at the Moon in the fourth month."   Niskramana   ceremony can also be performed with the First Feeding in the opinion of Asvalayana. There are specific astrological dates when the ceremony should be performed based on the convenience of the parents, the health of the child and suitability of the weather. On the day of performing the Samskara, a square portion of the court yard, from where the sun could be seen is smeared with cow dung and clay, the sign of Swastika is made on it and grains of rice scattered by the mother.  (In olden days these were mud floors in villages which needed plaster as often as possible. Cow dung was also considered as disinfectant.)
The child is fully dressed and bejeweled and brought to the family deity in the house. Then the deity is worshipped with instrumental music. The guardians of eight directions, the sun, the moon, vasu devatas and the sky are all propitiated. Vedic scholars as well as family priest are fed and appropriate mantras are chanted. The child is carried out with sounds of conch shell (Sankha) and Vedic hymns are chanted. At the time of outing, the father repeats the Sakuntala hymn or the following verse, "Whether the child is conscious or unconscious, whether it is day or night, let all the gods led by Indra protect the child." Then the child is brought to the Pooja room or temple   to perform the worship. The child is made to bow to the deity and the priest   who in turn blesses the child for long life intelligence and health. After this the child is placed on the lap of the maternal uncle who brings it back home. The child is pampered with toys  and other gifts  with hearty blessings. Since the child is made up of five elements it is customary for the parents to propitiate these divine elements and seek blessings form them as the child gets exposed to them besides the main deities Sun  and the Moon.

In the Atharva Veda 8/2/14 it is said:

Sive te staam dyaavaaprithivee asamtaape abhisriyau | 
sam te soorya aa tapatu sam vaato vaatu te hride | 
sivaa abhi ksharantu tvaapo divyaah payasvateeh || 

O Child! At the Nishkramana ceremony may the earth and the whole world shower welfare and benevolence upon you! May the Sun shine brightly upon you! May your chest be filled with fresh life-giving air! May the divine waters quench your thirst!

It is customary to chant the mantras 

Trayambakam Yajaamahe” and “asato maa sadgamaya” on this occasion.

Hindu scriptures say: 

Nishkramanaad-aayusho vriddhir-appyuddishtaa maneeshibhih || 

The Nishkramana ceremony aims at wishing the child a long and healthy life.


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