Last week, I had the opportunity to shoot an Indian naming ceremony, where the entire family gathers to name the new infant child, (better known as Namkaran Samskar). I guess you could say the ritual is similar, in some aspects, to a Christian Baptism. Here is a description I borrowed from a website called iloveindia.com:
“During the ceremony the mother swathes the baby in a piece of new cloth, applies kajal to its eyes, and makes a little beauty mark on the baby’s cheek. The baby is then placed in the father’s lap to be blessed. The priest offers prayers to all the gods and to Agni, the god of fire and the purifying factor, the elements, and the spirits of the forefathers, and entreats them to bless and protect the child. He also places the sheet on which the child’s horoscope is written, in front of the image of the deity, for its blessings. Then, the father leans towards the baby’s right ear, and whispers its chosen name. Usually, the father does not whisper directly into the child’s ear, but uses a betel leaf or its silver imprint, or a few leaves of kusa grass to direct the words to the child’s ear. After the naming ritual is over, friends and relatives who have come for the ceremony then bless the child and touch some honey or sugar to its lips. It is a moment of all-round happiness if the baby smacks its lips.”
While I was not present for the actual ceremony, the family hired me to shoot the reception event afterwards. The event had such a resonating warm vibe present among all the family and friends, who celebrated with ritual songs, speeches, and traditional Indian music. There were certainly a lot of hugs, laughs and small group conversations along with, of course, amazingly delicious Indian food.
It was an enlightening experience for me, culturally; and it was also a great opportunity to witness the joy and celebration present at a traditional Indian celebration such as this. I was honored to be a part of it.