The Wiki entry about our community, the Iyers
"On the child's birthday, a ritual is performed to ensure longevity. This ritual is known as Ayushya Homam. This ceremony is held on the child's birthday reckoned as per the Tamil calendar based on the position of the nakshatras or stars and not the Gregorian calendar. The child's first birthday is the most important."
Here are a few snaps from KTB's Ayush hOmam (it was neither her birth-star date nor her date of birth, we just had it on a Sunday, that's all!) click here to see some pics ...if you have the time and inclination
The guests gather to bless us with sanctified rice being thrown as a form of benison:
Then they gather for the "poorNa Ahuthi" or the making of all sorts of offerings to agni, the Fire God, to bear as a messenger to the Gods in Heaven:
After we came home, a friend insisted that the "evil eye" had to be averted from the little one, and she performed her version of this rite,the drishti dOsha parihAra
which is very different from what my family would do:
I simply cannot believe in this rite. If I have invited our friends for a celebration, I cannot understand how such an "evil eye" or negative energy will be brought around the child, and how doing this kind of ritual will "remove" it. I hate the very idea that someone (in this case, friends of ours!) will "cast an evil eye" upon the baby, and find it very distasteful. This is as if I am saying that my friends are capable of being envious and jealous! Yes, perhaps if we had taken the baby out in a public space, I *might* agree that she might have attracted negative or jealous thoughts...but I cannot admit the idea that my own friends will direct such thoughts at her at an occasion to celebrate her turning one. If I believe this, I might as well not have such a celebration at all, because then I believe something less than the best of my own friends.
And also, how will the act of "windmilling" fistfuls of salt around the child (which is what we do) or burning one's fingers over a flame, to get a little soot to mark the baby's forehead, take away this negativity, if it does exist?
And.... when we say that we do not believe in a certain ritual (especially when the father is from a very different culture) , some people insist on foisting their beliefs upon us, and insist on us doing the ritual, or doing it themselves. Since it seemed so important to them, DnA agreed to let it be done, but I certainly wish that others would not insist on doing what they think fit, but let us stick to what we want to do... I am glad DnA are so accomodating!