Onnoprashon/Mukhe Bhat (First Rice-Eating Ceremony)87
What is Onnoprashon?
Onnoprashon literally means "feeding rice" in Sanskrit. Onnoprashon or mukhe bhaat symbolises the beginning of the weaning period in your baby’s life. The baby is gradually introduced to solid foods following this ceremony. It is followed in most parts of the country, and while some rituals may differ slightly, it essentially celebrates the transition to solids.
Why is the Onnoprashon done?
Onnoprashon is conducted when the baby is ready to make the transition from a liquid diet to solids. It is performed after the baby has completed five months and before the first birthday. While onnoprashon is performed in the even months for boys -- generally the sixth or the eighth month -– for girls, it is done in the odd months, usually the fifth or the seventh month.
Where can I perform the Onnoprashon?
Onnoprashon is done at home or grandparents’ house. If you perform the ceremony at home you may want to contact someone specialised in helping you with religious rituals.
How is the Onnoprashon done?
The onnoprashon is performed on a chosen special day by parents and/or grandparents. The baby is dressed in new clothes. Onnoprashon begins with a respective religious prayer for the baby’s health and happiness, followed by the first bite of solid food. It is an occasion for celebration and family and friends are invited to attend.
The religious ceremony is often followed by a game where a number of symbolic objects are placed on a banana leaf or a silver tray. Books (symbolising interest in learning), jewels (symbolising interest in accumulating wealth), pen (symbolising wisdom), clay (symbolising property), or food items (symbolising love for food) are all placed in the tray or leaf. The baby is allowed to pick an object and it is believed that whatever the baby picks up symbolises his future.
What kind of foods are offered to the baby?
Food for the baby’s first bite is usually rice pudding (kheer / payash) if you want to offer your baby something sweet. Or it is plain mashed rice with ghee and a pinch of well-cooked dal although a variety of food is served in the baby’s plate.
Elaborate dishes are cooked and may include a variety of rice, vegetables, meat, fish and kheer.
Tips for Onnoprashon
- Ensure that your baby is well rested before the ceremony
- The ceremony may be held just after the morning bath or before the mid-morning nap
- It is best to limit the gathering to just a few close family members and friends as your baby may feel overwhelmed
- Pay attention to your baby’s clothes as jori, mirror work, heavy embroidery, embellishments or thread work may irritate your baby’s tender skin
- Wash hands well before feeding your baby
- Ensure that your baby’s food is prepared fresh and hygienically
- Keep a small towel handy to wipe the excess food around your baby’s mouth
- Allow only a couple of close relatives to feed your baby and not each and every member of the family
- Keep small boxes of mithai as thank you gifts for the guests
- Do not forget to record these memories!