Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Indians love to celebrate and the birth of baby gives enough reasons for family and friends to get together. Baby showers are a must across India especially for the first child. These occasions have religious and social significance and are accompanied by a host of traditions and customs. Interestingly Indian baby showers customs differ from one region to the other even among members of the same religious faith. The occasion is known by different names in each state.
In North Indian States, baby shower is celebrated as Godh Bharai which means “to fill the lap”. This is mostly hosted in the third trimester and is a family observance with the woman in the household playing important roles.
The mother-to-be, dressed in her best clothes and ornaments is made to sit through religious rituals after which the family members start placing gifts and fruits, coconut and other items considered auspicious in Indian Culture on her lap. A child is considered as a gift that God places on a mother’s lap and placing gifts and sacred items is intended to bless the mother to be. Songs, music, dance, games and a sumptuous Indian meal are all part of the celebrations.
In South India, baby shower is a must for the first child and is celebrated with much pomp and festivity. Seemantham or Valaikappu, is the Indian baby shower celebrated in the 7th or 9th month of pregnancy. Several religious customs are practiced to ensure blessings on the child to be born and the mother to be.
Here again, the mother to be is dressed in finery and made to sit in the center of the room. She is surrounded by sweetmeats, fruits, flowers, a tray of new glass bangles and other auspicious items.
The mothers attending the celebration smear turmeric paste on the pregnant woman’s cheek, apply kum kum on her head and put a few glass bangles on her hands. By the time all the women have a go, the mother to be has her hands full of tinkling bangles.
Each time the mother moves from then on, the sound of bangles clanging together will be inevitable. In Indian Culture it is believed that this helps the baby which by now can sense sound and vibration. A grand feast is then served to the guests with 6 different rice dishes on the menu.
Mostly Indian Baby Shower celebrations are all women occasions. However it is not uncommon to have a grand party inviting everyone with plenty of games and delicious Indian dishes.