There are personal rites or ceremonies in Hinduism called samskaras. In actuality, they are the equivalent of Christian sacraments. According to the most orthodox calculations, there were some forty samskaras, which covered the life of man from his conception to his death, some of which were of great importance and performed by all respectable members of the Aryan community.
Jatakarma was a birth ceremony that was to be conducted before the umbilical cord was cut. It welcomes the child into the family and the world. Mantras for health and longevity are whispered in the baby's ears, to be kept secret by his parents until his initiation. At birth, the child and his parents were ritually impure and therefore not entitled to participate in ordinary religious ceremonies for ten days, when the child would be given a public name.
The most significant rite in the life of a boy was upanayana(investiture of the sacred thread or yapnoparita), which marked a boy's transition from boyhood into manhood.In the ceremony, a boy is marked as “twice born,” allowing him to fully enter his caste. There was no such rite for girls, even though during Vedic times the girls had some types of ceremonies. Boys from the fourth caste were not permitted to perform this rite. During the ceremony, a special prayer was whispered into the ears of the initiate. This prayer — Gaytri — was popular and would be said in most of the rites, similar to Our Lord's Prayer for Christians. The Gaytri goes like this:
Let us think on the lovely splendor
of the god Savitr,
that he may inspire our minds.
Of the various personal samskaras, three of them were concerned with events before birth. They were: garbhadhana — to promote conception; pum-savana — to procure a male child; and simantonnayana — to ensure safety of the child in the wom
More important, was the first feeding — annaprasana. In the child's sixth month, he was given a mouthful of meat, fish, or rice, mixed with curds, honey, and ghee, to the accompaniment of Vedic verses and oblations of ghee poured on the fire. The rite of tonsure or cudakarma took place in the third year, and was confined to boys; with various rites, the child's scalp was shaved, leaving only a topknot, which in the case of a pious Brahmin would never be cut. Another ceremony, not looked on as of the first importance, was carried out when the child first began to learn the alphabets. There was also a rite when the boy started school.