Inviting friends and family members to a Namakaran, the Hindu baby naming ceremony that originated centuries ago to initiate infants into the community, is something that parents should discuss before the baby is born. There are no traditional formats or religious requirements in the creation of invitations to the Namakaran, but there are some crucial pieces of information that should be included, particularly if some guests may be unfamiliar with Hindu practices.
In order to invite loved ones to your baby's Namakaran, present or mail invitations as soon as possible, particularly to the baby's female relatives. Indicate that the Namakaran is a time for those close to the family to bless the new baby before Hindu priests perform the remainder of the ceremony and that the baby's mother will also be honored at the ceremony. Invitations should reflect the family's personal preferences and style, but without taking anything away from the reverence of the occasion.
While the details of the Namakarana ceremony can vary among different communities, there are a few practices common among all Hindi communities that the invitation should not need to spell out. For instance, after the worship, or puja, of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu God of new prospects, the officiant performs a kalasa puja, which involves a long-necked brass vessel filled with spices and water. Officiants then chant mantras to invoke the Hindu god of water and rain, Varuna, to sanctify the water in the kalasa. After invoking these gods and any other the family chooses, the mother will write the baby's name on a banana leaf spread with uncooked rice, where she will place the baby's head and whisper his or her name for the first time into his or her right ear three times. Then the father and other family members take turns doing the same, and after a final prayer guests drink some of the sanctified water from the kalasa. However, the invitation should inform guests how formal the ceremony will be, include instructions about dress and gifts and mention any details about the ceremonial feast if you're having one.
According to Hindi custom, the Namakarana baby naming ceremony takes place within the first three months of the child's life and invitations should give invitees as much time as possible to plan for the event. T.V. Krishnamurthy, a Hindu priest in Los Angeles, states that the Namakarana has traditionally taken place on the tenth day after birth. He explains that this is because it has always been thought that infants are able to hear on this day, leading to the ritual of whispering the name into the child's ear. If the Namakarana is not performed by the twelfth day of life, tradition states that it can be performed after one hundred and one days of life or on the child's first birthday.
Close friends and family members usually attend Hindu Namkaran ceremonies, but if the parents of a newborn want to reserve the occasion for women it should say so on the invitation. The baby naming ceremony also honors the mother and the invitation should reflect the importance of her role in bringing her child into the world.
Namkaran ceremonies are usually held at the family's home or in a Hindu temple and it is important to include this information in the invitation. An advantage of having the naming ceremony at a temple is that there will already be a Hindu priest on hand to lead prayers to the gods, the baby's forefathers and the Agni, or elements, and pray to them to look upon the child with favor.