"accomplishment, embellishment, consecration"; Hindi Sanskar
) are Vedic rites of passage
finding varied acceptance among religious adherents of Hinduism
and some schools of thought in Buddhism
are a series of Sacraments, Sacrifices and Rituals that serve as rites of passage
and mark the various stages of the Human life and to signify entry to a particular Ashrama
. All Human beings, especially the Dvija
or twice-born are required to perform a number of sacrifices with oblations for gods, Ancestors and Guardians in accordance with the Vedic dictums for a Dharmic
or righteous life.
Sanskar is a commonly used variant of the sanskrit word 'Samskara' and signifies cultural heritage and upbringing in modern Hindi.
Most Vedic rituals consist of Homa - fire sacrifies of elaborate and intrinsic designs and complex methodology, accompanied by recitation of Vedas by qualified Priests in honor of a particular Demigod or god, fire offerings of various ingredients, gifts to be given in charity, presence of elders for blessings, amidst sanctified sacrificial grounds, sacred herbs and good omens. Each important milestone of a Human life is to be celebrated by undertaking a particular Samskara wherein the significance of that milestone is ritualistically conveyed.
Since ancient times there has remained a dispute between experts on the total number of samskara that exist. As written in Gautamsmriti 8.8 there are 40 of them, Maharshi Agnirane directed of 25 of them, but according to the Puranas, 12 or 16 of them are main and necessary. These ceremonies are enjoined on the first three (twice-born) castes in Manusmrti and Grhya Sutras (Grihya Sutras) (esp.Pāraskar) :
Some list 42 samskaras , ie the 16 listed below , plus the 21 compulsory Yajnas , plus the 5 panchamahayajnas .
- 1. garbhādhāna, the act of conception or insemination (literally, gifting the womb),Manusmrti 2.27
- 2. ,upon conception,in SED Monier-Williams cites Grihya-Sutra,MBh.
- 3. sīmantonnayana, during pregnancy,in SED MW cites Grihya-Sutra.
- 4. jāta-karman, birth-rites ,Manusmrti 2.27
- 5. nāmakarman, naming ,Manusmrti 2.30
- 6. , at one and a half months or four months, Mn.2.34
- 7. anna-prāshana, at 6 months first food (cereals), Mn.2.34
- 8. or mundana,child's hair is cut for the first time,Mn.2.27,35
- 9. , ear-piercing,MW cites Purāna-Sarvasva.
- 10. Vidyārambha,commencement of studies, Mn.2.69
- 11. upanayana, wearing of the sacred thread at 6-8 years of age.,Manusmrti 2.27
- 12. Vedārambha, commencement of Vedic studies, Mn.2.71
- 13. keśānta, getting rid of hairs, Mn.2.65
- 14. samāvartana (Samavartanam ), completion of education, end of brahmachaya-āśrama, Mn.3.4
- 15. , marriage, Mn.3.4
- 16. , last rites at death
Vidyārambha,Vedārambha, are not enumerated as separate sanskāras in ancient texts like Manusmriti or Grihya Sutra(Pāraskar). To this list may be added too, which reduces the list of most essential sanskāras to 12 only.
are religious rites
which take place at various important stages of life. For a man to attain various worldly stages he must go through various ceremony at certain times in his or her life. The ceremony that takes place at these events is called a sanskar.
The Sikhs have 4 main Sanakars or ceremonies in life. They are:
- Naam Karan –This is a Sikh ceremony of naming a child and it usually takes place in a Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) after the baby and mother are medically and physically fit to attended the Gurdwara. There is no limit or threshold to this timing and the family should not feel undue pressure of any kind as to the timing. The only matters that need to be taken into account is the well being of the mother and child. It normally just involves the main family members attending at the local Gurdwara.bum (he he)
- Amrit Sanskar or Amrit Sanchar or the Amrit ceremony is the Sikh ceremony of initiation or baptism. This practice has been in existence since the times of Guru Nanak Dev (1469 - 1539). During that time-period, this ceremony was known as Charan Amrit or Charan Phul or the Pag Pahul. However in 1699, the Khande di Pahul (Amrit ceremony) was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh when Khalsa was inaugurated at Sri Anandpur Sahib on the day of Baisakhi. "Khande Di Pahul" embodies the primary objects of Sikh faith; promises connection with the Guru; and also promotes the ability to lead a pure and pious life which will unite the "pure one" with Almighty Lord.
- Anand Karaj – is the name of the Sikh Marriage ceremony, meaning "Blissful Union" or "Joyful Union," which was introduced by Guru Amar Das. The four Lavan (marriage hymns which take place during the marriage ceremony) were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das. It was originally legalised in India through the passage of the Anand Marriage Act 1909 but is now governed by the Sikh Reht Maryada (Sikh code of conduct and conventions) which was issued by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). It dictates that only those who follow the Sikh religion may marry under the ceremony, therefore, Sikhs cannot marry persons professing to other religions under it. It also states that child marriage is invalid and that no account should be taken of the prospective spouse's caste. However, in practice, many Sikhs take preference in people from their caste.
- Antam Sanskar – The funeral ceremony (cremation): In Sikhism death is considered a natural process and God's will or Hukam. To a Sikh, birth and death are closely associated, because they are both part of the cycle of human life of "Birth and Death of the body" ( ਆਵਣੁ ਜਾਣਾ , Aaavan Jaanaa) which is seen as transient stage towards Liberation, ( ਮੋਖੁ ਦੁਆਰੁ , Mokh Du-aar) complete unity with God. The soul being a unique form of energy from the source of all creation i.e. God, itself is not subject to death. Death is only the progression of the soul on its journey to God. In life, a Sikh tries always to constantly remember GOD (naam japna) so that he or she may be sufficiently prayerful, detached and righteous, and at death becomes one with God. "Lakh Akasha Akash" meaning countless galaxies or 'skies' also pervade or exit within the same ONE ALMIGHTY GOD along with all creation, including one and all of us. That is why Nanak said "Naa Ko barry naa he begana, sagal sang huam ko ban aai" (there are no enemies or others, I seek the company of all) & "Mannas kee jaat saabey eko pehchanbo" (O' humankind, consider everyone as one and equal).