Childhood is considered as the most important phase of life, which determines the quality of health, well being, learning and behaviour across the lifespan. That’s why it’s given the foremost position for Balacikitsa among Ashtangayurveda (8 branches of Ayurveda).
संस्कारो हि गुणान्तराधानमुच्यते| (Ch. Vi. 1/22)
A general definition of samskara, encompassing nearly all of the above is “to improve upon something while removing its undesirable attributes.” Samskara or Sacraments give meaning to the teachings of the Vedas and Hindu religion. We need various Samskara from time to time for religious/spiritual motivation during this passage of life. Samskara are rites that are meant to purify and positively influence our lives throughout our growth and development, from conception unitl death. Samskara are religious rites which help direct our lives towards Dharma (righteous
living). They help and guide us to higher levels of morality and spirituality.
The number of Samskara varies in different Hindu dharma granthas, it is about 16-40, but the applicable Samskara are 16 (shodash) in number (Kaumarbhritya). These are:
1) Garbhadan (Sacrament of Impregnation or Conception)
2) Pumsavana (Engendering a male issue)
3) Simantonayana (Hair-parting)
4) Jatakarma (Birth rituals e.g. at the time when the child is being born)
5) Namakarana (Naming ceremony)
6) Nishkrama (First outing or outing ceremony)
7) Annaprashana (feeding ceremony)
8) Chudakarma or Mundan (Shaving of head)
9) Karnavedhan (Piercing the earlobes)
10) Upanayana (Sacred thread initiation)
11) Vedarambha (Beginning of vedic study)
12) Samavartan (End of studentship)
13) Vivaha (Marriage Ceremony)
14) Vanprastha (Renouncing the householder’s life)
15) Sanyyas(Leading the life of a monk)
16) Anteyeshti (Death cremation).