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Mother & Child Care

Dr. Vijay Singh Chauhan

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Samskaras

(Rituals to Assess the Milestones of Growth and development)

The constitution of a child is such that, it is more susceptible to several diseases. Home remedial measures mentioned in the literature of Ayurveda plays an important role in preventing the child from various infections. Many of them are so home friendly that they may be offered as a confection to the children (Lehaniya Yoga) or those which could be burnt to provide pleasant aroma with sterile air (Dhoopan Yoga). Ayurveda also lays a great emphasis on the growth and development of children and advocates to monitor them as certain particular rituals (known as Samskaras). The objective behind this could be to celebrate different milestones of growth as a festival and thus thank the almighty.

Right after the birth of the child certain instructions are to be carried out. These include creating sound with the help of two pieces of stone near the ear of the newborn and sprinkling hot or cold water on the face of the child. These actions help stimulating the respiratory and nervous system of the child to evaluate the reflexes. The oral cavity and the throat is cleaned soon after birth with the help of a cotton swab, so that the child doesn’t encounter any respiratory difficulties. These all instructions are carried out till the infant cries. The next ritual, which is followed, is the part of "Jatakarma". It is performed before cutting the umbilical cord. This includes offering the calx of gold with honey and ghee or only with ghee on the child’s tongue and chanting mantras in the child’s right ear, so that the perturbed doshas get subdued and the child becomes immune to the disorders like indigestion and respiratory disorders, which are normally due to aggravated doshas. Thus this ritual prevents the child from vulnerability to any disease. Further, till the chanting of the mantras takes place, the pulsations of umbilical cord stop, indicating the time for its cutting. It has been indicated that the umbilical cord has to be tied with thread at two places-one at about 8-finger distance and other at about 4-finger distance from the umbilicus. The umbilical cord should be cut in between these two points either by sterile scissors made up of gold, silver or iron, and dressing has to be carried out after tying the cut end, so that the bleeding stops.

After Jatakarma Samskara, another activity, which bags an important place, is Rakshoghna Karma. This includes burning several plants which would keep the air unpolluted, tying several herbs around arms, legs, neck or head of the child, in view of protecting it from certain micro-organisms present in the polluted atmosphere, and also from certain supernatural forces. Herbs such as Til, Alasi, Tulsi, Khadir, Kola, Pilu, Parushak, etc. are used for this purpose. As mentioned earlier, application of calx of gold with honey and ghee in unequal amount should be carried out for 3 times a day for the first day. For the second and third days, ghee medicated with a herb known as Lakshmana should be administered with honey. On the fourth day, only honey and ghee should be given in an unequal amount twice a day and the third time the child is started on to br**st feeding, in case of primi mothers; whereas the child of multipara mothers can be directly subjected to br**st feeding from the first day itself.

Another Samskara, which is advised to be carried out, is called as Shashti Samskara. It is believed that the child’s future is decided on either 5th night or 6th night from the birth. This particular ritual is performed to worship the goddess who is instrumental in deciding the future of the child.

Naming of the child is of great importance and is mentioned as Namakaran Samskara. For this purpose, on the 11th, 27th or 30th day of the first month, the mother is bathed with water, medicated with aromatic herbs and white mustard seeds; dressed in light attire, decked with ornaments, and is asked to touch several auspicious materials and to worship the particular God of that Nakshatra (constellation), in which the child is born. The child is also dressed in hygienic and auspicious attire and is made to lie down, either in the east or north direction and Mantras are enchanted. The child’s father is then supposed to the name the child. Usually two names are designated for the child viz., (I) celestial name, and (II) colloquial name.

Exposing the child to sunlight helps establish the visual faculty and is therefore asked to be performed with great care after the child is a month old. This is known as Surya Darshan Samskara. Only after this child could be taken out in the sun and also in the night. By doing so, the child is prepared to get accustomed to the climatic changes and also, the fixation of macula. In the 4th month, the child is bathed properly, decked with ornaments, dressed in new attire and is taken to the temple accompanied by its mother. This is called Deva Darshan Samskara. The reason to stress so is that, only after the completion of 4th month, the cervical vertebrae are well set and the safety of neck is fully ensured while being carried out in hands. Certain auspicious materials like honey, white mustard seeds and ghee are also carried. Offerings of ghee, rice, fruits and flowers are made.

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