Hindu scriptures describe many rites to be performed during the many important phases of life. The rites, of which 16 are the most significant, hold both a scientific as well as a pious meaning:
(1) Garbhaadaan - at the time of conception; the couple is righteously guided, and the child prepares for a spiritual life.
(2) Punsavan - when the fetus completes its first trimester; emphasizing the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the child and mother.
(3) Simintonnayan - approximately when the fetus completes the second trimester.
(4) Jatakarma - the birth of the child.
(5) Namakaran - custom of naming the newborn child.
(6) Nishkraman - when the child first leaves the home to get the blessings of saints or to visit a temple.
(7) Annaprasan - at around six months, when the child starts eating food and teething.
(8) Chudkarma (or mundan) - at around the first to third year, the child's hair is cut for the first time.
(9) Karnavedh - piercing of the child's ears (this and other customs are performed according to different family traditions).
(10) Upanayan - when the child is ready to begin his spiritual studies with a guru; brahmin also bear a sacred thread.
(11) Vedarambha - the commencement of spiritual studies (e.g., at a Gurukul).
(12) Samavartan - at the end of studies, with the guru's blessings the person is ready to enter the life of a householder.
(13) Vivaah - or marriage; many customs guide the occasion that carry a person from the brahmchaari aashram (celibate phase in life) to the gruhasth aashram (married phase).
(14) Vanaprashta - literally, entering the forest, commencing the 3rd phase of life when one begins to detach from the family and focus on God.
(15) Sanyaas - entering the fourth phase of total devotion to God.
(16) Antyeshti - the rites when a person passes away.