According to the scriptures, some necessary rules have been made for the life of a person, following which is considered to be a must for us. In this human life, every person must imperatively follow the sixteen sacraments. These sixteen sacraments are performed at different times from the birth till the death of a person.
The tradition of discharging of these sixteen sacraments has been going on from ancient times. Every sacrament has its own distinct importance. The person who does not follow these sixteen sacraments, his life is considered to be incomplete. These are the sixteen sacraments:
The Garbhaadhaan Sacrament:
This is that sacrament in which we are blessed with a capable, gifted and ideal child. According to the scriptures, in order to have a child of your desire, the Conception Sacrament takes place. It is this sacrament that helps in the growth of one’s lineage.
The Punsavan Sacrament:
This sacrament is done for the mental and intellectual development of the fetus. The major advantages of the Punsavan sacrament are that we are blessed with a healthy, beautiful and gifted child because of it.
The Seemantonnayan Sacrament:
This sacrament is practiced during the sixth and eighth month of pregnancy. During this time the life developing within the womb becomes capable of learning. In order for it to have good attributes, nature and values, the mother follows similar thoughts, lifestyle and behavior.
The Jaatakakarma Sacrament:
Practicing this sacrament immediately after the birth of the baby helps in removing many kinds of imperfections from the child. During this, the child is made to taste honey and clarified butter. Along with this, mantras from the Vedic scriptures are chanted so that the child remains healthy and has a long life.
The Naamakaran Sacrament:
The Naamakaran sacrament is done on the eleventh day of the birth of a child. The name of the child is decided by the priest according to astrology.
The Nishkramana Sacrament:
The meaning of nishkramana is to eradicate. This sacrament is done in the fourth month of the birth of a child. Our body is made up of earth, water, fire, wind and sky – which are also known as the ‘Panchabhoot’. That is why the father prays to these five deities for the well-being of his child.
The Annapraashan Sacrament:
This sacrament is followed at the time of the teething of the child, i.e. at the age of 6-7 months. After this sacrament, the process of feeding grains to the child begins.
The Mundana Sacrament:
When one year of the life of a child comes to an end, then either between the age of one to three years or five to seven years, the hair on the head of the child is shaved. This is known as the Mundana sacrament. This sacrament strengthens the head of a child and sharpens his intellect. It also helps in destroying the bacteria stuck to the hair of the child, which in turn provides great health benefits to the child.
The Vidyaarambha Sacrament:
Suitable education is provided to a child through the medium of this sacrament. The child is made familiar with the level of primary education.
The Karnabedha Sacrament:
The earlobes of a child are pierced in this sacrament. There are two reasons behind it. One is to wear ornaments. Piercing the earlobes enables acupuncture. It helps in improving the flow of blood in the veins that goes to the brain. It increases the strength of the ‘Sharaavana’ and prevents from many illnesses.
The Upanayanayagyopavita Sacrament:
‘Upa’ means near and ‘nayana’ means to take. Upanayana sacrament means to take the child to the teacher. This tradition continues even today. There are three ‘sootras’ in the ‘janeu’ which is also known as ‘yagyopavita’. These three deities are Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha. A child receives strength, magnificence and energy through this sacrament.
The Vedaarambha Sacrament:
In this sacrament, a person is given the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures.
The Keshaanta Sacrament:
Keshaanta sacrament means to end the ‘kesh’ i.e. hair. Keshaanta is also done before the study of knowledge. It is a belief that after coming out of the womb, the child has the hair given by his parents on his head. Cutting them provides purification. It is imperative to have purification before receiving education so that the brain works in the right direction. Keshaanta sacrament is done after receiving education from the ‘gurukul’.
The Samaavartana Sacrament:
Samaavartana sacrament means to return once again. This sacrament was practiced to bring a person back into the society once again after having received education in the ‘aashram’ or ‘gurukul’. It signifies preparing a celibate person psychologically for the struggles of life.
The Vivaaha Sacrament:
This is the medium of religion. Vivaaha sacrament is considered to be the sacrament of paramount importance. In this, the bride and the groom marry and vow to stay together and follow the path of religion. Through marriage, they contribute towards the development of the ‘creation’. It is through this sacrament only that a person is freed from the ancestral debt.
The Antyeshtee Sacrament:
Antyeshtee sacrament means the final sacrament. According to the scriptures, after the death of a person, i.e. after his soul has left his body, the body of the dead is dedicated to fire. Even today, fire is lit in the house and carried in front of the procession of the dead. The funeral pyre is lit with this same fire. The significance of this fire is that the person had lit in his house after marriage, the fire of his final sacrifice will be lit with the same fire.