SAMSKARA – ANNAPRASANA
Most of the grihya sutras mention this Samskara but the Khadira and Gobhila grihya sutras do not mention it.
As to the time of performance of this samskara there is great divergence of opinion. The 5th month, 6th month, the time when the child strikes first teeth and end of the year are mentioned as the time for Annaprasana.
The procedure was to prepare boiled rice and mix with curds, honey and ghee and the child was fed with it as the father recited the prescribed mantras. This rite was supposed to give nourishment, holy luster, swiftness or splendour to the child. After the child was fed it was placed by its father on kusa grass that pointed to the north. The mother ate the balance of food. Feeding of Brahmins who bless it with their benedictions followed.
Samskaraprakasa and Samskararatnamala contain elaborate descriptions of the Samskara.The Markanteya purana contains an interesting ceremony in connection with Annaprasana. On the day of the ceremony tools, vessels used in various crafts, weapons and astras are spread about and the child is allowed to crawl among them. When the child seizes a particular article, he is supposed to take up the profession to which that particular article belongs.