This is a simple ceremony in which the child is
given a name. The ceremony of naming a child. Nama literally means
'name' and karana means 'to make, to
As the primary means of identification and social
interaction, the naming of a child developed into a religious ritual
believed to be the root of the child's destiny.
This ceremony takes place after the 10-day 'impure'
postnatal period (See Jatakarma). Then the house is
cleaned and purified, and the child and mother ceremonially bathed.
Friends and relatives are invited to see the child and participate
in the celebration. The puja involves, other than the child and
priest, the father, mother, and sometimes the paternal grandmother.
First the mother covers the child in a new cloth. She wets the
child's head with water, symbolically bathing him, and then gives
the child either to the father or the paternal grandmother. Next,
the priest invokes the blessings of Agni, the planetary bodies, and
The Grihyasutras do not specify a Namakarana
procedure for the actual naming of the child. The Paddhatis
(Sampradayas), however, say that the father should
lean towards the child's right ear. Holding a betel leaf near the
ear, he should whisper four names to the child. Then Brahmins,
specially invited for the occasion, bless the child. Finally, gifts
are given to the relatives and Brahmins present.
The word nama meaning 'name' is common in early
Sanskrit literature and occurs in the Rig Veda
Although initially no Vedic mantras were recited during the naming
ritual, it developed into a Samskaras because of its social
Many of the early texts prescribe more than one
name for an individual. The Smritis, on the basis of astrological
works further developed the system of naming. According to the
Rig-Veda (see Vedas), a child of either sex should be given four
The Nakshatra name: This is given
according to the constellation, or Nakshatra, (see
Panchangam ) the child is born under. Each constellation has a name,
and several letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are also assigned to
it. The Nakshatra name could therefore be the name of the
constellation itself, or begin with any of the letters assigned to
The Baudhayana Dharmasutra connects the
constellation with the child's future. This is a secret name, which
some give during Jatakarman.
The name of the deity of the
month: Each month of the Hindu calendar is associated with
a particular deity, which usually has several names. The child's
second name is one of the names of the deity of the month in which
it is born.
The name of the family deity:
Every Namakarana family has one deity who has been worshipped for
generations. The name of this deity is given to protect the child
The popular name: This is the name
that the child is known by. It depends on the culture and education
of the family, and should be auspicious. The former is known to the
Grihya-sutras, which speak of a popular name in
addition. The practice of naming children after favorite deities
began in the Puranic times. The rise of the Bhakti cult made this
practice so popular, that by naming children after gods, we are
deemed to gain several opportunities for uttering Gods name whenever
we call the child. The story of Ajamila is pointed out for the
effectiveness of this method. Shortening of the names of children
deprives us of this opportunity.
According to the Grihya sutras , there are five
requisites to naming a child:
- the name should be easy to pronounce and sound pleasant;
- it should contain a specified number of syllables and vowels;
- it should indicate the sex of the child;
- it should signify fame, wealth, or power; and
- it should be suggestive of the caste of the family.
For example a Brahmin child should have an
auspicious name, a Kshatriya child should have a name that suggests
power, a Vaishya child should have a name that suggests wealth, and
a Shudra child should have a name that indicates his service.
Some people give their children name that sound
ugly or have unpleasant A priest making a child's horoscope during
the naming ceremony. Namakarana meanings in the belief that this
will frighten away diseases, and evil spirits and influences
Nowadays, this ceremony usually takes place on the
twelfth day after birth. It is not a formal ceremony, but more of an
opportunity to invite family and friends to celebrate the baby's
arrival. There is usually a havan, and then the child's name is
announced to the gathering. Usually only a Nakshatra name and a
popular name are given.
The priest makes an astrological calculation
according to the time and date on which the child is born. On this
basis, he prescribes a letter of the alphabet with which the child's
Nakshatra name should begin. If the family is agreeable, this name
doubles as the popular name as well. Usually, however, the nakshatra
name is not used, and the child is given another name by which he is
According to Aswalayana, the names of boys should
have an even number of syllables. A two-syllabled name will bring
material fame and four-syllabled, religious fame. The girls name
should have an odd number of syllables and end in I or aa. It should
be easy to pronounce, pleasing to the ear and auspicious. It should
not contain awkward suggestions. There are practices like choosing
the name after the Nakshatras of birth and also after the ancestors.
This ceremony is performed, normally, on the tenth
or twelfth day after birth. If there are inconveniences it is taken
to the end of the first year. The appropriate day for this function
is the 10th, 12th or 16th day of the childs birth. Failing to
perform it on any of these days, an auspicious day, say the Vedas
should be chosen for the purpose after the 16th day of the childs
After preliminaries the parent gives the offering
to gods, touches the breath of the child symbolizing the awakening
of its consciousness and says in its ear: Your name is.. thrice. The
Brahmins and elders are asked to follow, calling the child by that
name and blessing it. A personality is sought to be given.
It follows that Namakarana should not be postponed to the day of
marriage or Upanayan.