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Kah Naethar: Commentary

Subhash  Kaknethar in Kashmiri is nothing but nakshatra in Sanskrit. So kah nethar would be the ceremony celebrating the constellation (nakshatra) on the eleventh day. 

Likewise, nethar for marriage is again an indirect word representing the corresponding astral sign, an auspicious beginning. The correct name for marriange is vivaha. The commonly used Hindi term shadi is totally incorrect because it is a Persian word that means happiness or celebration. Any celebration is shadi

by Subhash Kak


Subhash ji:

Namaskar!

Prof. Bansi Lal FotedarKah-naether is known as Jatakaram Samskar and is one of such vedic samskaras as Namkaran Samskar or Mundan Samskar. This samskara is held on the eleventh day or, as you have said, on the eleventh nakshatra from the nakshtra of a child's birth, hence the name kah-naether. It is akin to baptism - a ritualistic propitiation of deities and the acceptance of a new-born child into the family fold or gotra. It is considered to be a very important samskara because no hom, havan, yagnya, shradha or pind-dana can be performed by the family where a new-born child has not had this samskara. However, if this samskara cannot be held on the eleventh day of a child's birth it can be deferred and held on some other auspicious date but before any religious ceremony is performed by the family. In our times it has now only vestigial importance.

Peculiar to KP's is Shran-sonder, a ceremony held on the tenth day of a child's birth; only KP's combine the ceremonial medicinal bath with the vedic ritual of Pum-suam (a ritual now only observed in selective cases in the south of India, namely Kerala). And, kah-naether cannot be held if there has been no shran-sonder.

On the 3rd day of a child's birth, we have another ceremony, again peculiar to KPs, called Trui, when fried sesame seeds garnished with sugar candy and walnuts are distributed among friends and near relatives. Sesame seeds seem to have a tantric significance in all our ritual performances. 

Regards,
Prof. B. L. Fotedar


Dr. Ravi KawThis is what I found about Kahnethar so far: 

According to Pundit Anand Koul (in 'The Kashmiri Pandit')

Kahanethar is the purificatory ceremony after confinement. It is performed on the eleventh day after delivery when the mother leaves the confinement room. A havan is performed and the child is given a name. Prior to this, bath is given to both mother and baby on or after the sixth day of the delivery and it is called Shran Sunder. After the bath lighted pieces of birch bark are passed round the head of the child and of all the persons present. This is done by the midwife who, while doing so, repeats --Shokh tah punahsund (happiness and more children to you). 

According to HINDU SAMASKARAS by Rajbali Pandey, the samaskaras of childhood are:

    1. Jatakarma (birth Ceremony)
    2. Namakarana (Name-Giving)
    3. Nishkramana (First Outing)
    4. Anna-Prashana (First Feeding)
    5. Chuda Karana (Mundan or Tonsure)
    6. Karnavedha (Boring the ears)
Jatakarma was performed before the severing of the navel chord. This can change because of other factors like death in the family etc. 

Namkarna is performed on tenth or twelth day after birth. There is again a wide option for the dates.

According to Pundit Prem Nath Shastri's Juntree, Jatakarma is Kahnethar. But it appears to me that the present day ceremony includes portions of both Jatakarma as well as Namakarna.Each Rashi contain two and a half Nakhshatras. That is why when you go to a South Indian Temple, the priest wants to know your name, Gotra, and Nakshatra. This is more precise than Name, Gotra, and Rashi. Most of us know our Rashis but have no clue about the Nakhshatra. Ask your priest. This side discussion apart, the naming has a lot to do with the nakhshatra (Nakhetur in koshur). As was pointed out by Subhash Ji, Kahnethar is but a deformation of the word that implies the naming ceremony done on the eleventh day after birth. 

Finally, I must again point out that ALL samaskaras among ALL Hindus are performed according to GrehaSutras. The details of Homas (havan), naming convention for Namkarna etc, are standard. The details vary according to the local traditions. For example, Kashmiris use Tantric symbols that are absent in all of South India. Kashmiris chant vedas in Sama (singing) style, whereas South Indians chant in very crisp measured style. The stuff they chant is exactly the same. The Dhrivyas (items for worship) are also local stuff. Naturally we use things we are used to, like walnuts and almonds, and Nabad (nabaat of persians). South Indians use coconut, palm leaves, etc. So, if you want to do any of these ceremonies here, go find a knowlegeable South Indian priest, tell him a few things about your own customs, and enjoy a genuine function. DO NOT ask them to use tantric signs they are taught to stay away from such stuff. 

Hari Om !

Ravi Kaw

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