In the Sikh community the baby is bought into the religion at a very early age. The Naamkaran ceremony is conducted as soon as the baby and mother are in a healthy enough state to attend the Gurdwara during the weekly kirtan. However, there is no exact date that this has to be done by as the health of the baby and of the mother is more important than the ceremony itself – however, it does symbolise the child’s first step becoming a member of the Sikh community. Arrangements have to be made prior to the kirtan in which the ceremony is to take place and it is generally a time for celebration as it is the introduction of a new member into the Sikh community. It also ensures that the child is celebrated and named in front of the community in order to allow them to feel as if they are part of the community as they grow up.
Arrangements made in order to prepare of the Naamkaran ceremony include sending out invitations to family members and friends of the family to have them in attendance. The Karah Presad needs to be recited during the kirtan so proper arrangements need to be in place to ensure that this is done. The Naamkaran also gives thanks and blessings to the child which is relevant to ensuring the child’s good health. The naming ceremony also verifies and names the child. The child’s name is dependent on the first letter of the first word spoken during the Hukamnama. All of this may seem fairly complicated – however, the ceremony is a traditional ceremony and is fairly important in welcoming the child into the Sikh community.
Having to name a child based upon the first letter of the first word spoken from the Hukamnama may seem like it limits what the family will call the child. This is not so. There are hundreds of names available to the parents and it can actually help them name their child. Prior to the ceremony parents look through lists of names and find their favourites for each letter. After the child has been named the word Singh is appended to the name of boys and Kaur is appended to the name of girls. After the ceremony the child’s name has to be registered and a birth certificate can then be issued for the child. The ceremony is beautiful and beauty comes largely from the outpouring and elation of the community at having a new child in the community.