Once Upon A Time
India is a land of diverse cultures and traditions. Right from conception to old age, various rituals and beliefs were defined by our ancestors. Many of these traditional beliefs do seem to have a scientific backing and hence it makes sense to follow them even now!
There are a few forgotten costumes followed by our ancestors Once Upon A Time. Let us go through that memory lane and have a look at one such important custom…
The term Annaprashan is a Sanskrit word, which literally translates to "grain initiation."
In simple language, it means your baby’s first feeding or first rice-eating ceremony.
A custom where the infant is given its first solid food, is celebrated with fervour and joy in many parts of India, more common during our grandmother’s era and slowly losing shine in our present generation.
A ceremony where the families and friends get together. The child is made to dress in bright-colored traditional dress with jewellery. A pujari/priest is invited to perform the ritual. Loads of offerings like fruits, snacks are given to the God. The whole atmosphere is filled with excitement, laughter and blessings are bestowed to the child.
Ayurveda supports Anna Prashan
As per Ayurveda, Fruit juices should be given to the child from sixth month onwards, which are a source of vitamins especially vitamin C (phal-prashan). 8 months onwards, he should be given light and wholesome food (anna-prashan). By offering phalprashan and annaprashan ceremony at this time with breast milk, we can reduce the deficiency of related essential vitamins and prevent any growth deficit.
And so does Modern Nutrition
Similar to phal/annaprashan introduction in Ayurveda, the same principle is followed in Paediatric Nutrition today called Weaning. Breast milk is deficient in iron, vitamin A, D, K and calcium, thus it makes sense to start with solid foods after 6 months of breastfeeding. Starting Weaning does not imply discontinuation of breastfeeding, in fact; weaning compliments mother’s milk.
Does your grandmother preach the same?
Grandmothers are the encyclopaedia of food consumed during pregnancy to the kinds of nutrition an infant requires. They never consulted any expert on this, her own experience of raising not less than a dozen kids have resulted in a plethora of knowledge which the current generation can make use of.
The whole idea about Annaprasan is to expose the child to a wide variety of foods which will help him in proper growth and development. Secondly it also helps to make a child grow up to be non-fussy and open to try different flavours and varieties.
If we ignore their advice, we are staring at a future of a fussy child behind whom a mom is running around with a bowl of food or showing videos on the mobile to distract the kid.This paves the way for an adult who works while eating or eats while working making him an ideal person inviting various diseases!
So what's your story?
- Rohini Prasad