Annaprasan food is prepared to mark the special occasion of Annaprasan, a Hindu rite-of-passage ritual that marks an infant's first intake of solid food, or any food other than milk. The main objective of the ceremony, mostly observed by Bengalis, is to pray to gods to bless the child with good digestive powers, pure thoughts and talent. The Annaprasan ceremony is performed when a child is 6 months old. The occasion food includes preparations for the baby as well as the adults.
Traditional Annaprasan Recipes
The food traditionally consists of rice, fish and rice pudding for the child and a major feast for the adults, which is consumed after the puja or prayer ceremony. Payesh or Rice Pudding is the most important traditional preparation. It is cooked and fed by the child's paternal grandmother. Rice mixed with ghee or rice mixed with butter is another important traditional preparation.
Significance of Annaprasan Preparations and Dishes
Annaprasan food prepared during the day mostly consists of ingredients which are easy to digest so that the child does not have any health problems after consumption of solid foods for the first time. Rice is, therefore, the most preferred and widely prepared dish. Different dishes which have rice as the main ingredient form a major part of the Annaprasan day menu. Sweets are traditionally an important part of the ceremony. Traditional Bengali sweets, which signify joy and merrymaking, are prepared and consumed to celebrate Annaprasan.
Modern Annaprasan Recipes and their Variations
Annaprasan food has managed to remain same over the years and there have been very slight variations to accommodate the changed tastes and preferences of the modern times.
Customary Ways of Serving and Eating Annaprasan Preparations
Annaprasan dishes, which are mostly prepared in a traditional way at home, are served after the puja or prayer ceremony. Food and sweets are first offered to the deity in the temple and the special preparations for the child are then fed to him or her. After the child has successfully eaten for the first time, friends and family enjoy the grand Annaprasan food feast together.