There are sixteen religious ceremonies known as Sanskars, or sacraments, in a life. The acknowledgement of this unique individualization process at every step of growth helps enrich the person’s life. Sanskars prepare one for the next stage of growth. Sanskars do promotes one’s potentials and progress in all spheres of life, including the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual. Sequentially, these are as follows:
Garbhadhana - conception acceptance ceremony (After solemnizing marriage ceremony).
Punsavana - ceremony of graceful care of the embryo and development of the fetus. Usually it is undertaken during second or third month of pregnancy, or the first trimester.
Sementonnayana- (akin to a ladies shower), living God’s blessing for the development of the fetus to full born. Usually the blessing is conducted from the fourth month of pregnancy and onwards during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
Jatakarma - accepting and identifying the newborn as an individual being.
Namakarana - naming ceremony usually is under taken on the eleventh day, or before twelfth day of birth.
Niskramana - ceremony of invoking God’s blessing to expose the new comer to the outside world and to pray for the wellbeing of the baby. Usually it is conducted when child is two to four months old.
Annaprasana - offering of solid food to the toddler. Usually from four to six months.
Chudakarma -self awareness ceremony(One year and onwards).
KaranVedha – self esteem development ceremony. The use of ornaments helps improve self image and self respect. It further enhances one’s responsibility. Usually three to five years.
Upanayana – school entrance initiation. To help control the fear of separation from parents and to overcome the anxieties of entering in the strange place of learning such as school. It is also called Yajnopaveet Sanskar and is usually conducted at five year of age and onwards.
Vedarambha – education enrichment ceremony. Five years and onwards.
Samavartana – welcome ceremony after completion of studies and to be accepted as a qualified individual. This ceremony is the last ceremony of Brahmcharya Ashram. Brahmcharya Ashram is the name given to that stage of life in which one learns skills necessary to earn a successful living. It usually lasts from birth to the first twenty-five year of life.
Vivaha – marriage ceremony. To select an appropriate spouse and to start the second phase of life as householder which is usually under taken at the age of twenty-five years.It is the beginning of Grihastha Ashram.
Vanaprastha Ashram – After enjoying and fulfilling all desires, or Karma by earning money, Artha by righteous means and doing benevolent deeds Dharma, one is now ready to march ahead in life to conquer gratifications. The usual period is fifty to seventy five year of age. It is called Vanaprastha Ashram.
Samnyasa Ashram –selfless service to mankind. Usually Samnyasa is attained by spiritual awakening. When someone dedicates his or her life for societal upliftment without any personal gain, that person has entered the Samnyasa Ashram, and the ceremony confers the title of Samnyasa.
Antyesti - this is the last ceremony in a life. During the Antyesti ceremony the remains are cremated, when the soul has left the mortal body. The body elements are consumed by fire and are disposed to nature, Prakriti, in its five elements : earth, water, air, energy and space. Then the cycle of life starts all over again.