Friday, February 7, 2014

Being Mommy: Leela's Annaprasana

Last weekend, we celebrated a milestone for Leela -- her Annaprasana, which is a Hindu rite of passage that marks the first time a baby eats solid food. My husband's family, who are South Indian, recognize this special day when the child enters its sixth month of life. The ceremony is a religious event, conducted by a priest on a chosen auspicious day, and we held it at the Ganesh Temple in Queens.

We fed Leela rice pudding that was made with saffron, by her grandmother. The baby is traditionally fed from a gold ring that has been blessed by the priest, and the maternal uncle is supposed to do the first feed. My brother & his wife kindly flew in from Texas for the event! Jiya was next in line to feed her little sister, and was so excited to be involved.

Leela really enjoyed the ceremony and was happily licking away at the rice pudding! After the religious portion, we spread a few objects in front of the baby, each symbolizing something different from a love of books, to wealth, to beauty. We used a book, a pen, jewelry, money, fruits and flowers to present a range of options. It is said that whatever the child touches first, will be its passion for life... Leela's right hand touched the book, just like her sister! And her left hand grabbed the cash. Good thinking, baby doll!

It was such a fun and meaningful day, and we were so blessed to be surrounded by our families.

Both girls were so well behaved, and as I watched them that day, I could not help but think how quickly they are growing up right before my eyes. It seems like just yesterday when we had Jiya's Annaprasana, and now she is a lovely, charming and talkative almost-3-year old, who loves to play princess dress up, work on puzzles and sing & dance all over the house. She has become a caring and thoughtful big sister that always tries to include Leela in her games, often (not always!) shares her toys with Leela, and always always asks for her every morning when she wakes up. And that Leela is rolling over, giggling, interacting with everyone around her, and almost ready to sit in a high chair and eat smooshy solids -- its almost too much to believe how the time as flown. 

When I am overwhelmed and under-rested, I try to remember that these baby days are numbered -- the times when Leela is snuggled at my breast, or Jiya wants me to read her "another book!" or sing "just one more song" -- that both my girls need me to constantly carry them, play with them, kiss them, hug them... that these are all fleeting moments. Already, I cannot imagine a day when I will not be able to kiss their soft bellies, bathe their little bodies in a bubble-filled tub, or watch them breathe deeply as they sleep on my chest. But, I know that soon, there will come a time that I long for these days -- and sometimes, I can already anticipate how much I will ache for them to be babies again, to need me so much again.

But right now, the days are so busy, and there are so many little challenges, it's hard not to think that I can't wait for them to grow up a little. Grow up a little so we can travel to interesting places again, share meals as a family without the chaos of tantrums, or be able to leave the house for a few hours without bags of baby belongings! Motherhood is so mixed up with powerful emotions of love and happiness, and bogged down by the weight of responsibility, worry and tiredness. Its hard as a mother to see the big picture on a daily basis, but it's important to focus on all the tiny victories, the big smiles, the fun games and laughter -- instead of the comparative insignificance of a messy house or a sleepless night.

Special celebrations like this one are a reminder that our children's childhoods are only temporary and that every moment should truly be cherished.  


  1. This is so sweet. What a wonderful tradition.

  2. Thanks, Jessica. It really is a fun tradition!

  3. Beautiful photos! And really interesting to read about, and get insight into, this tradition!

  4. Great post! Although I don't have kids, all that you've written about getting wrapped up in the small things v. thinking about the bigger picture feels applicable to a lot of life. Thanks for the food for thought =)

  5. so adorable. and so true about the mix of powerful emotions...

  6. Thank you...and yes, the mindset is applicable to so many aspects of life!