Throughout the ages, a child’s first birthday has been a landmark representing strength in survival, entry into the family and promise for the future. In India, the celebration still holds traditional and symbolic significance.
Depending on the auspices of the date, the Hindu rituals of Annaprasanam and Mundan may be performed on a child’s first birthday. The Annaprasanam is the giving of the first solid food. The Mundan is a shearing of the child’s hair very close to the scalp, sometimes leaving a small patch at the top of the head. The priest will bless the barber and scatter the hair in the river as an offering.
The ritual of the child’s first food signifies the development of health. The ritual of cutting hair signifies a cleansing and purification, a severance from past lives and negative actions or traits.
Guests are served with a banquet and a birthday cake. The child is given specially prepared rice, mixed with ghee or honey.
The child wears bright colors, while guests wear traditional saris.
Family and friends will attend, as well as a priest. If the Mundan will be performed, a barber will also attend.