In the Sanatan Vedic Tradition, there are sixteen religious ceremonies known as Sanskars or the Sacraments of Life. The Sanskars are performed for the physical, social, and spiritual development of the individual. In these ceremonies Agnihotra plays a very important part. These ceremonies are indicative of an individual's development and the acceptance of that stage of development by the family and society. The acknowledgement of this unique individualisation process at every step of growth helps enrich the life of the person. Sanskars prepare one for the next stage of growth. It promotes potential and progress in all aspects of life, including the physical, social, emotional and spiritual. Sequentially, these ceremonies are outlined to fulfil one's role from the beginning the end of life. Sanskaras or Sacraments give meaning to the teachings of the Vedas and Hindu religion. They are like concentrated doses of spiritual strength, which we need from time to time in this journey of life. Sanskaras are rites that are meant to purify and positively influence our lives throughout our growth and development, from conception unitl death.  Sanskars are religious rites which help direct our lives towards Dharma (righteous living). They help and guide us to higher levels of morality and spirituality. Sanskaras are done when one performs yajna in a way which is unique for a particular stage of life. The following is a brief description of the 16 sanskars based on Sanatan Dharma
1.Garbhaadhan Conception 
2.Punsavana: Fetus protection 
3.Simanta: Satisfying wishes of the pregnant Mother 
4.Jaat-Karmaa: Child Birth 
5.Naamkarma: Naming Child 
6.Nishkramana: Taking the child outdoors 
7.Annaprashana: Giving the child solid food. 
8.Mundan or Choula: Hair cutting. 
9.Karnavedh: Ear piercing 
10.Yagyopaveet: Sacred thread 
11.Vidhyaarambha: Study of Vedas and Scriptures 
12.Samaavartana: Completing education 
13.Vivaah: Marriage 
14.Sarvasanskaar: Preparing for Renouncing 
15.Sanyas (Awasthadhyan): Renouncing 
16.Moksha, NIrwana,


1. Garbhadhan (Conception) Sanskar:  This Sanskar relates to conception. Puja  is performed when conception is planned.  The parents become the Creators on earth and are proxy to the Supreme Creator.

2. Punsavan Sanskar: This is performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, around second to third month. The word "Punsavan" means "Purushatwa."  The husband vows to observe celibacy during the duration of pregnancy and lactation, and to ensure the happiness and health of his wife, and the wife vows to do all she can to ensure the perfect well-being of the foetus so that the child is born strong and healthy.

3. Seemantonayan Sanskar: The word "Seemant" means brain. A Puja is performed at four to five months of       pregnancy in which the parents and relatives pray for proper development of the brain of the child. Both parents vow to think only satvik (pure) thoughts during pregnancy because parental thoughts affect the child's mind, according to the Vedas. The type of food taken by the parents, their general conduct, even the kind of music they listen to, all have a bearing on the development of the child.

4.  Jaatkarma Sanskar: A Puja is performed after the child is born, and the father writes the word "Om" on the tongue of the infant, and utters the phrase "Tvam Vedo - asi" (your innermost name is Veda) in the infant's ear.

5.  Naamkaran Sanskar: A Child is given a meaningful name during the yajna, preferably between eleven days after birth, or as soon as possible.  The name should encourage the child to live up to its ideals.

6.  Nishkraman Sanskar: Performed when the child is about four months old and is blessed for good health,   because now he/she will be allowed out of the house without any restrictions.

7.  Annaprashan Sanskar: This is performed in the sixth month when the child is fed cereal (solid foods) for the first time. However,  it can be performed anytime the parents decide to begin feeding cereal to the child. Cereal and ground rice is mixed    

with yoghurt or honey and is fed to the child. Only fresh, hygienically prepared products must be used.

8. Mundan Choodakarm Sanskar: The word "chooda," or "jooda" means a knot of hair. This is the tonsure or "Mundan"  ceremony. It may be performed at either one year or three years of age.  The purpose is twofold: to clean the scalp, and to emphasize that the head is the most important part of the body because it envelopes the brain. A crop of new hair is stimulated to grow.

9.  Karnavedha Samskar: Performed for both boys and girls at the age of three or five years. In ancient India both men and women used to adorn ornaments in their ears. In Ayurveda piercing of the ear is believed to prevent diseases.

10.Upnayan Sanskar (Yajnopavit): This is a very important sacrament which can be performed between the ages of seven to twelve years. A sacred thread is placed on the youth and reminds the indivdual of his duties, both religious and earthly.

11.Vedaarambh Sanskar: This ceremony is performed when the child commences formal schooling.

12.Samavartan Sanskar: This is similar to the contemporary graduation ceremony. It used to be perfomed in the Gurukul or school at the end of formal studies before the young graduate returned home. The period of education is considered most important – it lays the foundation for the rest of one’s life.  There must be a balance between secular (worldly) and spiritual education.

13.Vivah Sanskar: The Marriage Ceremony – entry into Grihast Ashrama or life of the householder.  A couple undertake a deeply religious ceremony, and as husband and wife, establish a home and family, which is the nucleus of society.

14.Vanaprasth Sanskar: This is performed when the householder’s duties of bringing up and marrying off their children are complete. They plan to retire to study and propagate religion and serve society, usually at the age of fifty years or more.

15.Sannyas Sanskar: This is done as a vaanprasthi has finished his religious education and mastered yoga, and renounces all material attachment in order to propagate religion and spiritual upliftment of humanity.

16. Moksha NIrwana Sanskar: This is done as a cremation after the death of a person by performing a yajna wIth special oblations or offerings. All post death ceremonies such as shradh are considered to be unnecessary and against the Vedas. Cremation is prescribed by Vedic scriptures as the most hygienic and economical manner of disposal.  Based on the extensive studies of the Vedas,