Samsakaras: The Hindu Code of Conduct

Samasakara is the code of conduct done for purification of body, mind and soul. They are sacraments that are traditionally observed by every Hindu at every stage of the life beginning from the conception to the funeral rites. In this article, we give preliminary information about all the samsakaras that are supposed to be followed by a Hindu.

Number of Samskaras in Hindu Tradition

Ideally there are 16 samsakaras that every Hindu is supposed to have. But nowadays due to social pressure and lack of proper facilities only 8 are followed. Here is the list of all 16 samsakaras:

  1. Garbhadan:

    The first union of the husband and wife at the time of conception to get a child.

  2. Pumsvan:

    This samskara is performed when women get first signs of conception. This is done when one desires a male child.

  3. Seemantonayan:

    This is a ceremony performed to keep the spirit of expectant mother high and positive. On this occasion special music is arranged for the mother.

  4. Jatakarma:

    This samskara is performed immediately after the birth of child. Some honey is put on his lips and secret name or ‘Janam naam’ is given to the child. The mother begins her first breast-feeding after chanting of certain mantra.

  5. Nama-karana:

    In this ceremony the child is given holy bath. Elders of the house give the child a formal name. It is generally performed on the 11th day of child’s birth.

  6. Nishkramana:

    On this occasion the child has formal darshan of sun and moon. Elders pray for the health and longevity of the child.

  7. Annaprasan:

    This is the occasion when the child tastes solid food for the first time.

  8. Chudakarana:

    On this occasion the child’s hair is shaved off. Only a tuft of hair is kept.

  9. Karna-vedha:

    It is done when the child is 7 or 8 months old. This is an ear-piercing ceremony that is celebrated in a grand way.

  10. Upnayan or Vedarambham:

    This stage is important as the child is accepted as a disciple of a guru or spiritual master. The child goes to the Vedic school to learn about life.

  11. Keshanta:

    This is the occasion when the child finishes his studies under his guru and gives his spiritual master guru dakshina. He cuts his hair and gives it to his guru.

  12. Samavartan:

    The child who has become a learned adult returns to the house. All house members celebrate the occasion.

  13. Vivaha:

    The marriage ceremony of a boy and girl that takes place with great pomp. It begins the sacred grihasta ashrama for husband and wife.

  14. Vanaprasta:

    As old age approaches the man leaves the household responsibilities to his elder son and retires from the household life. He goes with his wife to sacred places for tapas and studies.

  15. Sanyaas:

    The man becomes completely aware of the Supreme Lord. He sheds all relationships. He gives up his wife as well. He lives a life of full surrender to God.

  16. Antyesthi:

    This is end of the person’s life. After his death, the last rites done to the body are called Antyesthi.

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