Kah Naethar: Commentary
nethar 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
by Subhash Kak
Kah-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.
Prof. B. L. Fotedar
This is what I found about Kahnethar so
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
According to HINDU SAMASKARAS by Rajbali Pandey,
the samaskaras of childhood are:
1. Jatakarma (birth Ceremony)
Jatakarma was performed before the severing of the
navel chord. This can change because of other factors like death in the
2. Namakarana (Name-Giving)
3. Nishkramana (First Outing)
4. Anna-Prashana (First Feeding)
5. Chuda Karana (Mundan or Tonsure)
6. Karnavedha (Boring the ears)
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 !