The Samskaras, are a series of rituals and sacrifices that mark the various states of the human’s life. Starting from Garbhadhana Samskara till the Antyeshti Samskara, each and every Samskara represents a stage of the human’s life.
Solah Samskaras are significantly performed in Brahmins communities. As per the scriptures, Dvija (twice-born – Brahmins) are essentially need to perform a series of sacrifices with oblation for ancestors, gods and guardians. This makes them to lead a Vedic and Dharmic way of living.
Almost all the Samskaras consist of Homa, fire sacrifices. Amidst the Veda Mantras and chanting, each and every Samskara is performed.
Here is the list of 16 Samskaras in Hinduism (Hindu Dharma, the way of Living):
This is the first ritual which followed immediately on every matrimonial union. It marks the seed for best generation. It is performed prior to first sexual intercourse or insemination of a married couple. Read in detail about Garbhadhana Samskara..
2. Pumsavana Samskara
Pumsavana Samskara is performed in the third or fourth month of pregnancy. The pregnant woman consumes curd along with some grains. This Samskara is accompanied by religious chanting. Read in detail about Pumsavana Sanskara..
3. Simanatonnayana Samskara
Simanatonnayana (Seemantham, Godhbharai, Valakaappu) is performed for the pregnant woman in the fifth or seventh month of pregnancy. It is a ritual to bless the pregnant and the child within her for good health. Read in detail about Simanatonnayana Samskara..
4. Jatakarman Samskara
Jatakarma Samskara is performed for a new-born baby. It indicates the good fortune. A small portion of gold, ghee and honey is fed to child.
5. Namakarana Samskara
Namakarana Samskara (ceremony for naming – cradle ceremony) is performed on 12th or 21st day after birth.
6. Nishkramana Samskara
It is a common ritual to take the child out of the home. It is generally performed in the fourth month after birth.
7. Annaprashana Samskara
It is a ceremony of feeding food to the child. It is performed when the child is six months old.
8. Chudakarana Samskara
Chudakarana Samskara (Arrangement of hair tuft, kheshakandana, Mundan, Choulam) is the ceremony of cutting baby’s hair for the first time. It is performed in the within a year of baby’s birth or in 3rd or 5th year.
9. Karnavedha Samskara
Karnavedha Samskara is a ritual of piercing the ears of child. It is performed for both- male and female child.
10. Vidyarambha Samskara (Aksharabhyasam)
This is a ritual literally means the commencement of studies or initiation into education. The father of the child officiates at Vidyarambha Samskara.
11. Upanayana Samskara (Yagnopavita Samskar)
It is performed when male child attains 8 years of age. Upanayana is a samskara of wearing sacred thread known as ‘Yagnopaveetam’. The Upanayana samskara is followed by ‘Brahmodesham’, teaching Gayatri Mantra to the boy.
12. Praishartha Samskara (Vedarambha Sanskar)
Praishartha Samskara is a ceremony of beginning of learning Vedas, Upanishads and all other Dharmic Scriptures. Upakarma is performed at the beginning of every academic period and the Upasarjanam marks the end of that period.
13. Keshanta and Ritusuddhi Samskara
Keshanta is performed for boys at the age of 16. First shave is performed ceremoniously during this Samskara.
Ritushuddi Samskara is associated with girls. The ceremony of first menstruation of a girl is performed as Ritusuddi.
14. Samavartana Samskara
Samavartana means the day or ceremony of graduation. It marks the end of student-hood as well as the Brahmacharya Asrama of life.
15. Vivaha Samskara
Vivaha Samskara is the ceremony of marriage.
16. Antyeshti Samskara (Antim Samskar / Agni Samskara)
Antyeshti Samskara is the ceremony of last rites performed for a human (funeral rites). It is not mentioned in the list of Samskaras in most of the Grhyasutras and other scriptures that carried the details of Samskarams.