What is the Naming Ceremony among the Sikhs?

Sikh Baby

Sikh ceremonies are not rituals or occasions for the display of affluence and ego, but acts of thanks-giving and prayer, suited to the occasion. There is no ceremony at the time of the birth of the child in a Sikh family, even though the event produces a feeling of joy among the near relatives. However, when the mother and the child are in a position to move about, say a few weeks after the birth, the family takes the opportunity of performing the Naming Ceremony.

Below is a description of Naam Sanskaar or “Naming Ceremony” in accordance to the Panthic Sikh Rehat Maryada:

CEREMONIES PERTAINING TO BIRTH AND NAMING OF A CHILD (ਜਨਮ ਤੇ ਨਾਮ-ਸੰਸਕਾਰ)

ੳ) ਸਿੱਖ ਦੇ ਘਰ ਬਾਲਕ ਦਾ ਜਨਮ ਹੋਣ ਮਗਰੋਂ ਜਦ ਮਾਤਾ ਉਠਣ ਬੈਠਣ ਤੇ ਇਸ਼ਨਾਨ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਯੋਗ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ (ਦਿਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਕੋਈ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਮੁਕੱਰਰ ਨਹੀਂ) ਟੱਬਰ ਤੇ ਸੰਬੰਧੀ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰੇ ਕੜਾਹ ਪ੍ਰਸ਼ਾਦਿ ਲੈ ਕੇ ਜਾਣ ਜਾਂ ਕਰਾਉਣ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਹਜ਼ੂਰ ‘ਪਰਮੇਸਿਰ ਦਿਤਾ ਬੰਨਾ’ (ਸੋਰਿਠ ਮ: ੫) ‘ਸਿਤਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਚੈ ਦੀਆ ਭੇਜਿ’ (ਆਸਾ ਮ:੫) ਆਦਿ ਖੁਸ਼ੀ ਤੇ ਧੰਨਵਾਦ ਵਾਲੇ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਪੜ੍ਹਨ, ਉਪ੍ਰੰਤ, ਜੇਕਰ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦਾ ਪਾਠ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਪਾਠ ਦਾ ਭੋਗ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਵੇ, ਫਿਰ ਵਾਕ ਲਿਆ ਜਾਵੇ। ਵਾਕ ਦੇ ਅਰੰਭ ਦੇ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਦਾ ਜੋ ਪਿਹਲਾ ਅੱਖਰ ਹੋਵੇ, ਉਸ ਤੋਂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥੀ ਸਿੰਘ ਬੱਚੇ ਦਾ ਨਾਮ ਤਜਵੀਜ਼ ਕਰੇ ਅਤੇ ਸੰਗਤ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਨਗੀ ਲੈ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਕਰੇ। ਲੜਕੇ ਦੇ ਨਾਉਂ ਪਿੱਛੇ ‘ਸਿੰਘ’ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਅਤੇ ਲੜਕੀ ਦੇ ਨਾਮ ਪਿੱਛੇ ‘ਕੌਰ’ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਲਗਾਇਆ ਜਾਵੇ। ਉਪ੍ਰੰਤ, ਅਨੰਦ ਸਾਹਿਬ (ਛੇ ਪਉੜੀਆਂ) ਮਗਰੋਂ ਬੱਚੇ ਦੇ ਨਾਮ ਸੰਸਕਾਰ ਦੀ ਖੁਸ਼ੀ ਦਾ ਯੋਗ ਸ਼ਬਦਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਰਦਾਸਾ ਕਰ ਕੇ ਕੜਾਹ ਪ੍ਰਸ਼ਾਦਿ ਵਰਤਾਇਆ ਜਾਵੇ।
“(a) In a Sikh’s household, as soon after the birth of a child as the mother becomes capable of moving about and taking bath (irrespective of the number of days which that takes), the family and relatives should go to a Gurdwara with Karhaah Prashaad (sacred pudding) or get Karhaah Prashaad made in the Gurdwara and recite in the holy presence of the Guru Granth Sahib such hymns as “Parmeshar ditaa banaa” {Sorath M. 5} (The Almighty Lord has granted support, [Sorath M. 5, Guru Granth Sahib Ang 628]); “Satguru sache dia bhej” {Asa M. 5} (The true Lord has sent this gift [Asa M. 5, Guru Granth Sahib Ang 396]) that are expressive of joy and thankfulness. Thereafter if a reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji had been taken up, that should be concluded. Then the holy Hukam (command) should be taken. A name starting with the first letter of the Shabad of the Hukam (command) should he proposed by the Granthi (man in attendance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and, after its acceptance by the congregation, the name should be announced by him. The boy’s name must have the suffix “Singh” and the girl’s, the suffix “Kaur”. After that the Anand Sahib (short version comprising six stanzas) should be recited and the Ardas in appropriate terms expressing joy over the naming ceremony be offered and the Karhah Prashad distributed.”

The Hukam or command taken at the Naming ceremony is a Hukam for the child and parents, which Guru Jee’s guidance and instruction. From the Hukam (command), the first letter from the first word of the shabad is used to choose a name. When choosing a name, such a name should be picked which is inspiring and uplifting because a name affects the child in later life. Picking one a name using the letter giving by Guru Ji, the parents receive the Guru’s blessings. When the name is chosen by the parents and approved by the Granthi (the Sikh man or woman in attendance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) then it should be announced to the Saadh Sangat, congregation. On announcing it to the congregation, someone should shout, ‘Bole So Nihaal: Sat Sree Akaal!’ (Whosoever responds to this call shall be blessed: True is the Immortal Lord). This signifies the congregation has accepted the name.

It is crucial for a Sikh child to have the suffix name ‘Singh’ boys and for girls the suffix name ‘Kaur’. ‘Singh’ means ‘lion’. A name influences the personality of the individual. Guru Gobind Singh Jee blessed all Sikh males with the name of ‘Singh’, reminding them they are lions. To be strong, fearless and wise. ‘Singh’ is always with you in your name, just as the Guru is always with you.

If you look up ‘Kaur’ in an encyclopaedia, it literally means ‘prince’ (it’s a masculine word). Guru Gobind Singh Jee used this word to give to all Sikh females. However it is in the context of being a ‘princess’. However not a princess which sits back and lets others defend her because she cannot raise the sword or defend herself. The Sikh female is a princess, which can stand up for herself and raise the sword to defend herself if necessary just as a prince would. Therefore the name ‘Kaur’ and ‘Singh’ are names which are signs of upliftment and remind a Sikh that the Guru is always there with you and your identity cannot separated away from the Guru or Sikhism.

Anand Sahib, the Song of Bliss, (short version comprising of six stanzas) is recited to express the feeling of happiness and joy. The Ardaas (standing formal prayer) which follows is a prayer of thanks to Waheguru and to seek Waheguru’s blessings. Karhah Prashaad is a gift from the Guru which is shared amongst all the congregation at the conclusion of the ceremony. All those who receive the Parshaad and eat it, make a statement and commitment that they have understood the Hukamnama (the Guru’s edict), accept it in principle and will strive to implement it their life.

ਅ) ਜਨਮ ਦੇ ਸੰਬੰਧ ਵਿਚ ਖਾਣ-ਪੀਣ ਵਿਚ ਕੋਈ ਸੂਤਕ ਦਾ ਭਰਮ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਰਨਾ, ਕਿਉਂਕਿ:
“ਜੰਮਣੁ ਮਰਣਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥
ਖਾਣਾ ਪੀਣਾ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਹੈ ਦਿਤੋਨੁ ਰਿਜਕੁ ਸੰਬਾਹਿ ॥
“(b) The superstition as to the pollution of food and water in consequence of birth (There is a wide-spread belief among certain sections of Indian people that a birth in a household causes pollution (sootak) which is removed by the thorough bathing of the mother, the baby and persons attending on her as also by a thorough cleaning of the house, the utensils and the clothes, after prescribed periods of ten, twenty one and forty days.) must not be subscribed to, for the holy writ is: “The birth and death are by His ordinance; coming and going is by His will. All food and water are, in principle, clean, for these life-sustaining substances are provided by Him.”

According to Gurbani:

ਜਲਿ ਹੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਥਲਿ ਹੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਨਮੇ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਮੂਏ ਫੁਨਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕ ਪਰਜ ਬਿਗੋਈ ॥ 1 ॥
ਕਹੁ ਰੇ ਪੰਡੀਆ ਕਉਨ ਪਵੀਤਾ ॥ ਐਸਾ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਪਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਮੀਤਾ ॥ 1 ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਨੈਨਹੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਬੈਨਹੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਸ੍ਰਵਨੀ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਊਠਤ ਬੈਠਤ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਲਾਗੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਪਰੈ ਰਸੋਈ ॥ 2 ॥
ਫਾਸਨ ਕੀ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਊ ਜਾਨੈ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੀ ਇਕੁ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਤਿਨੈ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ 3 ॥ 41 ॥
“There is pollution in the water, and pollution on the land; whatever is born is polluted. There is pollution in birth, and more pollution in death; all beings are ruined by pollution. ||1|| Tell me, O Pandit, O religious scholar: who is clean and pure? Meditate on such spiritual wisdom, O my friend. ||1|| Pause|| There is pollution in the eyes, and pollution in speech; there is pollution in the ears as well. Standing up and sitting down, one is polluted; one’s kitchen is polluted as well. ||2|| Everyone knows how to be caught, but hardly anyone knows how to escape. Says Kabeer, those who meditate on Waheguru within their hearts are not polluted. ||3||41|| ”
(Ang 331)

Gurbani is universal and ahead of its time. Guru Ji makes us contemplate ‘who is clean and pure?’ Realising that if we think given birth pollutes the body or makes it impure (as believed by in Islam, Hinduism and the Semitic religions) then everything is impure and polluted. However the spiritually wise person realises through the Guru’s grace that ‘those who meditate on Waheguru within their heart, are not polluted’. Waheguru, the Almighty Lord is the purest of the pure and the Supreme Truth. The person who is immersed in the Naam, and meditates on the Lord sees the Pure One, the Supreme Truth in all the Creation and in all nature. It is our thought, which can be impure or polluted which leads us to wrong actions, not the biological body.

ੲ) ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਰੁਮਾਲ ਤੋਂ ਚੋਲਾ ਬਣਾ ਕੇ ਪਾਉਣਾ ਆਿਦ ਮਨਮੱਤ ਹੈ।
“(c) Making shirts or frocks for children out of the Guru Granth Sahib’s draperies is a sacrilege.”


SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING A SPIRITUAL NAME

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