Friday, December 6, 2013




                                                      Shyamala and Shreekumar Vinekar

There are sixteen Sanskaras in the Hindu way of life. Sanskaras are "impressions," more importantly
"deep seated impressions." These differentiate a cultured individual from one who is not so fortunate
to have had the opportunity to form or receive the good sanskaras that makes a person
"su-sanskrit." Needless to say that the ancient Hindu tradition like that found in many younger civilizations insists that an individual is recognized from the moment of his/her conception. The Hindu
Vedic tradition begins to pay attention to the individual from the very moment of his or her conception. This practice of nurturing the individual at different psycho-social-developmental milestones continues until the end of his or her life cycle.

The first Sanskara is that of "Garbhadhaana" sanskara (meaning the moment of conception - or Garbhadhaarana).

The "Sanskara Vidhi" is a formal celebration of these momentous events in the life of an
individual. The "vidhi" is a rite. During a vidhi the loved ones get together and contemplate on
the significance of the event for the individual, his loved ones, friends, and even the society in
which he or she is nurtured. The purpose of such rites is to foster bonding by creating a sustained
and sustainable psychological and social environment that is favorable for maintaining harmony
between the individual and his or her loved ones.

These events focused on the rites that celebrate these memorable moments in a person's life
demonstrate a great sensitivity for the deep inner emotional states of the individual experiencing
these transitions and developmental crises. They are designed to subtly bring to awareness the
fundamental emotional and physical needs of the individual for him or her as well as his or her
loved ones.

Having recognized these needs, the loved ones make a commitment to fulfill these needs and to
nurture the individual and his/her parents (and even his or her teachers). The society thus gets together
and is culturally re-juvinated through these Sanskaras and when the group of loved ones and friends
get attuned to the meanings behind the rituals by learning the meanings of what is poetically conveyed
through the chantings of Mantras during these ceremonies. Over the ages, however, the Hindus have
lost the consciousness of the importance of the Sanskaras and they have been looked upon as
"ritualism" with disdain and the get togethers have become a mundane socialization for the attendees
who gather to chat with one another absorbed in "song and dance" de-emphasizing the very
import of the sanskaras. For example, in the Vivaha Vidhi the parents of the bride are deeply
concerned about the security of their departing daughter, and in the old days before the advent of
affluence and Social Security-Welfare etc. government programs ensuring the wellbeing of the
bride (their daughter) and knowing they themselves may not live long enough to provide the
Yogakshema (protection and "coverage") of the daughter and her offsprings, they would entrust
her brother to come to the podium and lovingly promise to take care of her and her children
so long as he is alive. In so doing he would also caution the bridegroom to take good care of
his sister. The drama and the ritual is very touching if one can understand the emotional state of
the bride's father and mother who have so tenderly nurtured their daughter. Now-a-days this drama
is viewed simply as a skit performed for the entertainment of the audience and all concerned lose
their opportunity to come to grip with the state of mind of the parents of the bride and even her
brother. Also, there is some emotional pain for the bride in leaving the parents' home. The audience
nowadays is usually an undisciplined crowd that is not interested in what is going on. Even the parents of the bride and of the groom are so tense with their own preoccupations and denial of psychological issues of the moment that they are in a hurry to get these things over with. So, an important sanskara
is made light of and has no impact on the individuals as well as the gathered loved ones and friends who have their attention focused on the opening of the bar or the food to be served after the wedding.

A profound respect for individuals and sincere love is also expressed in preparing for and in conducting such ceremonies.. The Purohita attempts to get across these meanings to the
concerned individuals and his/her parents and loved ones without becoming a pedagogue.
No direct and overt preaching occurs but the poetic expressions are the vehicles to bring the
sanskaras to the individuals. Thus the ceremony, if perceived with respectful attention and
contemplation (the new buzz word for this is "mindfulness"), becomes an emotionally meaningful
event in the individual's life helping him or her attain the status of becoming "su-sanskrita" in the traditional sense. Every educated and well brought up individual in a civilized society is cultured
and is seen as civilized or "cool" but the traditional Hindu sanskaras go deeper than the social
charm, social skills, manners, and etiquettes, etc. These are designed to transform the inner layers
of the personality that are necessary ingredients of a Su-sanskrit person in a Dharmic (in the modern
language spiritual) sense. These Sanskaras are so adroitly put together that they are remembered with
all of their attached significance throughout one's life. The married couple who understands the significance and meaning of the ceremony is bonded at a deeper level than with romance and love
but carries the true meaning of Vivaha, carrying the responsibilities in a special manner (Vi+Vaha)
or as interpreted by others as flowing together with deep understanding of the institution of

"Seemantonnayanam" is the third Sanskara after the Garbhadhaana (Garbhadhaarana) samskara. The principal purpose of this ceremony is to create the inner contentedness for the pregnant woman, the mother of the fetus and the would be child. This sanskara is for the daughter or daughter-in-law if performed by one set of parents, or can be jointly performed by the parents of the bride and also the groom (parents of the couple). The sentiment in this vidhi is to help achieve the best health status for the newly pregnant mother, for herself and her fetus ( a form of pre-natal care). The set of parents express their best wishes for the stability of the symbiotic state of the two lives united throughout the pregnancy. They express their concern for the wellbeing of the fetus and the mother, their daily gains and progress
made by the unborn child. During this ceremony as in the Vivaha Vidhi there are many sweet
sentiments, and emotional nuances to be expressed in words, and also through symbolic actions
and meaningful rituals. Songs filled with these emotional expressions are sung in melodious
nurturing notes.

Nutritious foods are offered to the pregnant daughter (daughter-in-law) placing them near
her symbolic anatomical region honoring her fecundity (the anterior pelvic or lower abdominal
region called "oti" in Marathi." These foods accompany coconut and other ripe fruits. The food
items are also selected by a tender responsiveness to the pregnant woman's special cravings for
certain food items (Dohale in Marathi).

There is a great delight and joy about the anticipated birth of the grandchild that will propagate
the family name, family tradition, and culture. These pleasant anticipatory feelings are shared by
the pregnant mother, her husband, her parents, her in-laws, their relatives, and their close friends.

At the end of the ceremony there is a lot of pleasant socialization as it should be even during the
weddings (socialization needs to be after the ceremony and not during the ceremony). It is enriching for the new mother and her parents and in-laws to have conversations around the main theme of the ceremony. Many blessings are showered upon the couple, and both sets of their parents.

The timing of the ceremony coincides with the biological event of "quickening" in the fifth month
of pregnancy when the pregnant woman starts feeling the movements of the fetus ("kicking"). It is intriguing how the mother is biologically in tune with the nutritional needs of the fetus and starts
experiencing cravings for foods. These cravings are not characteristic of her usual likes and dislikes
and are seen as if they are the wishes or cravings of the fetus. The family becomes respectful of such cravings and amusingly nurtures the pregnant daughter (daughter-in-law). This leads to deeper
bonding within the two generations, parents with the mother and fetus.

"Seemantonnayanam" becomes a memorable event for every one and not just a ritual. The
unborn child is most definitely the unseen beneficiary of this beautiful "Sanskara."

The child so deeply desired and so tenderly loved and nurtured from the moment of its
conception is fortunate indeed. It is assured to be set on the trajectory to become "su-sanskrit"
meaning a cultured individual.

                                                           SONG NO. 1

Just as the earth blooms with pleasure when sprayed by the monsoon rains, dear  (____)(pregnant
girl's name) has suddenly burst into a smile reflecting her romantic peaceful contentedness. The touch
of a cool breeze has lightly grasped her mind. She then quietly whispered the sweet secret of her hearing the soft footsteps of a smiling budding flower. It is emanating a fragrance in the atmosphere
announcing her sacred love for (the baby's father).

The music of life itself filled with its richest notes arrived with this sounds of this melody.
The melody is in rhythm with oscillations of the swing adorned by a peacock and peahen couple
who is resting nearby. (_______) (the pregnant woman) is seated on this swing enjoying the undulations of the swing. (Babies love swings as their vestibular sensations are more keen than other
sensory domains in early infancy). The couple (birds) is eager to watch (_______) in a tiny world
 of a frangrant little lady (or a male) flower bud. Seeing this sight no wonder the parents of
(________) also blossoming with joy. In that honey filled sweet universe a New World of rich new
feelings is unfolding as (______)'s dream. It is painted with the brightest colors of the "glory of

etc., etc. (To be continued)

                                                               SONG NO. 2

The best wishes and contentedness are showered on this earth. Thrilled with the
experience of peace, suddenly _____ had a sweet smile with a momentary giggle.
Thrilled with the experience of peace, suddenly ______ had a sweet smile with a
momentary giggle. The light breeze touched her mind bringing the secret message.
The engrossed smiling flower buds sensed the footsteps of the delight of the
the married life (referring to the unborn child)

_____ and _______ enjoying this state of union in marriage

_____ and _______ enjoying this state of union in marriage started exuding the fragrance.

Come let us all friends sing a song to sweet __________
Come let us all friends sing a song to sweet __________

Gently gently let us oscillate the swing at this happiness filled moment

We wish you as a couple live a serene and joyous life

Your parents filled with joy in their hearts will shower incomparable nectar of their love upon you

They will bless you live for hundred years, ______ and ________

They will bless you live for hundred years, ______ and ________
They will also bless the tender baby (babies).

This gives the flavor for the richness of this ceremony. These sanskaras are conducted generation
after generations and are inherent traditions in the Hindu way of life.


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