The rice feeding ceremony in Nepal or the Weaning ceremony, also called Pasni or Annaprashan in the Nepali language, is a special ceremony performed during the infancy period. It is a traditional Nepali celebration that parents celebrate for their newborns.
After birth, the baby survives on the mother’s breast milk for a certain period of time. Thereafter, only milk is not enough for the babies. After 5 to 6 months of birth, the baby is fed rice for the first time. This event is celebrated as the rice feeding ceremony.
The weaning ceremony holds significant importance in Nepali households. Moreover, it is a special event in a parent’s life. It is the celebration of infants beginning to eat rice. It is a centuries-old tradition that is still preserved and performed by Hindus.
A Rice feeding ceremony is held when the daughter turns 5 months and when the son turns 6 months. It’s because daughters are believed to mature a little earlier than sons.
How is the Rice feeding ceremony celebrated?
The rice feeding ceremony is celebrated not only in Nepal, but Nepalese living abroad also continue the tradition and celebrate the Rice feeding ceremony. Though all Nepalese have this culture of rice feeding, the rituals may vary according to the ethnic group.
The weaning ceremony is not performed on any other day. An auspicious date and time are decided by a priest.
The parents invite their close relatives to participate in this ceremony. The parents invite close relatives only if it is an intimate affair.
If the celebration is organized at a banquet, then invitation cards are distributed among a large group of people ranging from close relatives to colleagues.
Such lavish celebrations sometimes include DJs, grand feasts, and halls embellished with mesmerizing decorations.
The preparation for the ceremony starts a few days early. A special dress is sewed for the baby that is usually made up of velvet with golden designs.
The baby and the baby’s mother and father also decorate themselves in new attractive attire. Mothers usually wear red saree or lehenga, and fathers may wear Daura Suruwal or a Suit.
The rice is cooked by steaming it with milk. A mush is prepared out of rice. It is fed to the baby on a silver spoon.
The priest performs some rituals and chants while worshipping symbolic god idols. The priest first asks the mother to put a tika on the baby’s forehead. Then, a special garland made up of Bermuda grass (Dubo) is put around the baby’s neck. Finally, the rice is fed.
While the mother holds the baby, other family members continue the rice feeding process. Those who attend the ceremony do not only feed the rice but also offer gifts and blessings to the baby. Those gifts are usually money, dolls, gold and silver chains, earrings, anklets, bangles, etc.
The maternal uncle also carries the baby in his arms to visit the nearest temple, where he bows down the head of the baby in front of God’s idol. The maternal uncle of the baby is the one in the ceremony who brings silver anklets (Kalli).
It is a special anklet that has carvings of dragon at the ends. Such kalli is believed to keep the bad omens away from the baby. Similarly, in some Newari households, the babies have their ears pierced with either gold or silver earrings.
In some cultures, a plate is placed in front of the baby to choose objects. Objects like a jewel, books, pens, food items and clay are placed where each object is symbolic. Jewel symbolizes wealth, Books symbolize learning, a pen symbolizes wisdom, food items symbolize love for food, and clay symbolizes property.
Family and friends cheer and laugh while the baby picks up an object. It is believed that the picked object represents what the baby will have an interest in in the future.
Why is the rice feeding ceremony celebrated?
Rice is regarded as the primary source of energy in Nepali culture. Nepalese consume rice every day, usually twice a day. Nepalese have an emotional and religious attachment to rice.
From ancient days, cultivating, harvesting, and savoring rice has been regarded as an important and auspicious event. Farmers would perform different rituals and dance in joy while planting paddy.
Then, the first harvest is always offered to the gods like Annapurna and Kubera. Goddess Annapurna is regarded as the lord of food grains and nourishment, while Kubera is regarded as the lord of wealth.
Similarly, they would worship the paddy storage container before storing the harvest praying that the container never turns empty.
As the rice grains have such religious importance in Nepali culture, their significant presence can be seen in several festivals and ceremonies. One such ceremony is Annaprashan.
Rice is the initial and easily digestible solid food a baby eats. Annaprashan is celebrated when the infant is ready to make the transition from a liquid diet to solids.
Where can I perform the Weaning ceremony?
Traditionally, the Weaning ceremony is performed at home or a temple. However, nowadays, some parents prefer celebrating the function by booking a banquet hall or community center.
Pasni Decoration Ideas at Home
When it comes to Pasni decoration ideas at home, there are endless possibilities! Whether you’re going to decorate for quick and simple settings or something more fun and festive. Here are some of the ways decoration ideas at home to celebrate this special occasion.
1. Hanging Baby Clothes
One popular decoration idea is to hang baby’s clothes on a clothesline. This is a great way to display all of the adorable outfits that your little one has outgrown within six months or less.
You can also use clothespins to attach pictures of your baby at different stages of development. This is a great way to create a visual timeline of your baby’s first year.
2. Baby Photo Collage
Another popular decoration idea is to create a photo collage. You can mount monthly photos of the baby on the wall where you are going to celebrate the pasni ceremony. You can also create a collage using digital photos.
3. Balloons & Confetti
Want to make your weaning decoration more festive? Then you should consider hanging colorful balloons or streamers. For baby-themed Pasni decorations, you should consider adding confetti to make them more stylish. And of course, no weaning ceremony would be complete without a beautiful cake!
Whatever decorations you choose, be sure to keep your little one’s safety in mind. Don’t place any sharp objects and candles or fire things near the baby. With these little bits of planning, you can create a beautiful and safe setting for your baby’s weaning ceremony.