The Samskāra are a series of Sacraments, Sacrifices and Rituals that
serve as rites of passage and mark the various stages of the Human life
and to signify entry to a particular Ashrama. All Human beings,
especially the Dvija or twice-born are required to perform a number of
sacrifices with oblations for gods, Ancestors and Guardians in
accordance with the Vedic dictums for a Dharmic or righteous life.
Sanskar is a commonly used variant of the Sanskrit word 'Samskara' and
signifies cultural heritage and upbringing in modern Hindi.
Apart from the practices, the word "Samskāra" is used in communication
denoting the upbringing criteria of a Hindu. For example- It is said
that a boy with good Samskāra does right and it is supposed that he will
not fall in sin, i.e. Lust, Anger and Wine. It may be concluded that
Samskāra is a word to denote the qualitative quality among Hindus.
Most Vedic rituals consist of Homa - fire scarifies of elaborate and
intrinsic designs and complex methodology, accompanied by recitation of
Vedas by qualified Priests in honor of a particular Demigod or god, fire
offerings of various ingredients, gifts to be given in charity, presence
of elders for blessings, amidst sanctified sacrificial grounds, sacred
herbs and good omens. Each important milestone of a Human life is to be
celebrated by undertaking a particular Samskara wherein the significance
of that milestone is ritualistically conveyed.
The 16 Samskaras
Most of the Brahmins used to follow complex rituals in connection with
major events in their lives, such as pregnancy, childbirth, education,
marriage, and death. Although, the number of major samskaras fluctuates
between 12 and 18 in the Grhya Sutras, later, it became 16 in number,
generally known as "Shodasha Samskaras" . They are