Rost and Aloy at the Naming Ritual, with Teersa in the background.

"All-Mother, this child needs a name by which to know her, that your love may warm her life as the rising sun warms all the earth! Speak her name!"
High Matriarch Teersa

The Naming Ritual is a ritual performed by the Nora tribe, to give infants born into the tribe a name. It is witnessed in the opening cutscene of Horizon Zero Dawn, when Rost speaks Aloy's name for the first time. It takes place when an infant is six months old, and is the first time the child is given a name; prior to that, it is assumed the child is nameless.

Ceremony

The ritual is conducted on the overlook of All-Mother Mountain, high above the valley. Although Rost took a very long and arduous path to get to the overlook, it is possible that there is a main route to get to there through the village, which Rost would have been forbidden to enter as an Outcast.

The ceremony appears to take place at sunrise. As Rost later describes to a young Aloy, the entire village attends the ceremony, which is led by one or more High Matriarchs. The infant is given their first mark of face paint to signify that they are now a part of the Nora tribe, initially a single horizontal straight line across their forehead. The mother (holding her child), stands at the edge of the overlook as the High Matriarchs speak to All-Mother. Whilst the sun rises above the mountains the mother loudly declares the child's name to the new dawn.

According to Rost in the introductory cutscene, part of the ceremony involves All-Mother "speak[ing the child's name] back." Presumably this refers to the name being echoed back to the speaker when the name is declared to the world. It is not known whether this is a required part of the ritual or what would happen in its absence, as Aloy's name booms across the mountains.

Since Rost and Aloy are outcasts, the small ceremony Rost and Teersa perform for Aloy is very different from the normal ritual. As her mother is unknown, Rost declares Aloy's name with only Teersa present to bless the naming.

Trivia

  • The Naming Ritual has similarities to various religious practices in the 21st century. Much like the Nora naming, these ceremonies are often symbolic of the child being accepted into a (religious) community and the ceremonies are usually attended by family members and friends.
    • In Christianity, infant baptism occurs when a child is usually several months old, and often they are given a Christian name which the Church recognizes them by.
    • In Hinduism, naming a baby is a sacred ritual called Namakarana and occurs at least 12 days after the birth
    • In Islamic tradition, on the seventh day after birth, the baby is given a name chosen by the mother and father; the name is usually an Islamic name with a positive or sacred meaning.
    • In Jewish tradition, boys are named on the eighth day after birth at a brit malah (the same ceremony where circumcision is performed) and girls are named within the first two weeks.
    • In proto-Turkic cultures, the child's parents took their children to the shaman of the tribe and demanded a name for them.
  • It is unknown who would perform the ceremony should the mother die between the child's birth and the naming ceremony.
    • It is possible that either the High Matriarchs or whomever is caring for the child declares the name in that case.
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