Occult Science in India, by Louis Jacoilliot, , at sacred-texts.com
When a Brahmin's wife has given birth to a son, her husband is careful to note upon his tablets the hour, the day, the year, and the epoch, of the occurrence, together with the stars under whose auspices the child has just been born.
He carries this information to the astronomer of the pagoda, who casts the horoscope of the new-born child. Nine days thereafter a stand is erected and decorated with flowers and foliage, upon which the mother takes her seat, with the boy in leer arms.
An officiating Pourohita, or Brahmin belonging to the first class of initiation, then performs the poudja, or sacrifice to Vischnou, in front of the stand. He pours a little lustral water upon the child's head, and into the hollow of the hands of the father and mother, who drink it, and then he sprinkles all those present with the same liquid.
The father then brings a dish of earthenware, bronze, or silver, according to his means, upon which is a little betel, and a present for the Pourohita.
By this ceremony the child is purified from all the uncleanness attached to his birth.
From this time, the mother, who since her confinement, has stayed in a separate room, is obliged to live ten days longer by herself in a retired place, at the end of which time she is allowed to go to the temple, to purify herself from her uncleanness.
It is unnecessary to call attention to the fact that a similar custom in such cases prevailed among the Jews.
The Ceremony of the Nahma-Carma.
Twelve days afterward the ceremony of the giving of the name, or of the Nahma-Carma, as it was called, took place.
The house was decorated as if for a festival, and all the relatives and friends of the Brahmin caste alone were invited.
The father, after performing an oblation to the fire and the nine principal divinities which rule the planets, transcribed with a brush upon a wooden tablet the horoscope of his son, which was cast at the pagoda, with the name that he proposed to give him.
He then uttered three times in a loud voice the name which he had just written, which all present repeated after him. He closed with the following words:
"Blessed be the name of Brahma. This is my son and his name is Narayana [or any other name]. Listen attentively in order that you may remember it."
He then went out of the house at the head of a procession consisting of all his guests, and planted in his garden, or in front of the dwelling, a cocoanut, tamarind, or palm tree, according to the section of country where he resided, saying:
"In the name of the powerful and just Brahma, all you who are here present, bear this, in mind. This tree is planted on Narayana's name-day, in the thirty-fifth year of the fifth lunar century of the third divine epoch" (or any given date).
This, as the reader will understand, is given merely as a matter of form.
At the close of the ceremony, a grand feast is given, of
which all present partake. Previous to their departure, the father presents to each a cup of cedar- or sandal-wood, upon which is engraved the horoscope, or more generally the monogram of the child.
The object of this present is to furnish evidence, in case any dispute should thereafter arise as to the legitimacy of the child's birth. When summoned as witnesses before the caste tribunal, the guests appear with their cups in their hands, and testify as follows:
"In the name of the powerful and just Brahma; the words which proceed front my mouth are strictly true. This cup was given to me by Covinda, on Narayana's name-day, in the thirty-fifth year of the fifth lunar century of the third divine epoch. There can be no doubt that Narayana is the son of Covinda."
The Pourohita, or Brahmin who is present at the ceremony, then offers a sacrifice to the Pitris, or ancestral spirits, and asks them to protect the new-born child.
The father then distributes betel among the guests and makes a present to the officiating priest according to his means.
The Ceremony of Anna-Prassana.
When the child is in the seventh month of his age, rice is given him to eat for the first time. This festival is called the Anna-Prassana.
As in the case of the other ceremonies the father invites all his relatives and friends and sends to the pagoda for a Brahmin to officiate. After a general bath in the tank of ablutions, upon which the Pourohita has scattered a few drops of lustral water, all the guests take their seats upon a stand decorated with branches of fruit-trees in full bearing, and the priest offers a sacrifice to the lunar spirits that protect the family.
Meanwhile, the women sing an appropriate psalm and
perform the ceremony of aratty (which has the property of driving away evil spirits) above the child's head for the first time.
The priest then blesses the Brahminical girdle which is a sign of his caste, and which is bound around the child's loins for the first time. A little boiled rice is then put in his mouth, and everybody sits down to the repast.
The ceremony terminates with the distribution of betel and a present to the officiating priest.
The Ceremony of the Tchaoula.
When a child reaches the age of three years, the ceremony of the Tchaoula, or the Tonsure, is performed.
This festival is much more solemn than the preceding, for the child, who is present, is able for the first time to murmur the name of the divinity, as well as the names of the protecting spirits of his home and family.
After bathing and decorating the child with a necklace and bracelets of mingled coral and sandal-wood beads, he is led beneath a pandal, which is a sort of dais formed of trees procured for that purpose and of flowers of every description.
He is surrounded by his relatives and guests and the priest offers an oblation to all the Pitris, or family and ancestral shades, in both branches, on the father's and mother's side.
The statue of Siva-Lingam, the image of perpetual fruitfulness, is brought in covered with flowers and fruits.
At this point of the office the barber commences. After prostrating himself in the presence of the god, in the midst of female singing, accompanied by the musicians from the pagoda, he proceeds to shave the child's head, leaving a small lock of hair on the back part, which is never cut.
During this operation the child's female relatives perform the aratty upon the heads of those present, in order
to drive away evil spirits, and everybody preserves a religious silence.
Having finished his duties, the barber retires with his pay, which consists of a certain quantity of rice, and the priest cleanses the child from any impurity which he may have derived from unclean contact with the barber.
The child's toilet is then made anew, and after a fresh bath in the sacred tank of ablutions, in order to propitiate all the spirits and genii of the plants to which that day is consecrated the ceremony closes as before with a repast and presents.
Until the age of nine years the Brahmin remains in the hands of the women until the term for commencing his novitiate arrives.