There are many events and celebrations associated with pregnancy. Read on to know what you can expect during this joyous time.
Pregnancy is a time of joy and celebration – not just for the parents-to-be but for friends and family too! It's no surprise then that all over the world, in almost every culture, a number of events, ceremonies and rituals have evolved to mark and celebrate this happy event.
In India, there are several ceremonies associated with pregnancy. In fact, among the 16 samskaras that are accepted as the rites of passage in a Hindu's life, 3 of them are associated with conception and pregnancy. Simantonnayana, the third samskara, has endured over the years and is celebrated all over the country, but is called by different names and has different elements, depending on the region and culture.
But essentially, it is about welcoming a new baby into the world, and showering goodwill and gifts on the mother-to-be and wishing her the joys of motherhood. These events serve as a type of initiation into the world of motherhood. And importantly, you, the mom-to-be, gets to be the centre of attention and treated like a VIP! Here are some of the more popular rituals:
1. Godh Bharai:
Godh Bharai (literally, "filling the lap") is celebrated in the northern part of India. It is usually performed after the seventh month, probably because it is assumed that the pregnancy is now stable. On this day you'll be dressed in a brand new saree, adorned with flowers and bedecked with jewellery. Expect lots of gifts – ranging from fruits to gold! The ceremonial Kumkum will be applied to your forehead, followed by Aarti. The joyous occasion will call for loads of singing and merriment. Several traditional songs will be sung. Once the Godh Bharai function is over, you will, in all probability, be heading to your parents' home for the rest of the pregnancy term and delivery.
These are some of the names by which this ceremony is celebrated by Hindu families in Southern India. Your in-laws will oversee the arrangements (so being in their good books might be a good idea!). Ceremonies will vary from family to family; some families opt for very elaborate poojas seeking blessings for you and the baby, while others are happy with simple ceremonies. Traditionally these events were ladies-only, but nowadays men are also included.
You can expect that the function will be held in the fifth, seventh or ninth month of your pregnancy. You will don green bangles (symbol of fertility), and receive tons of gifts! If people don't get gifts for your baby, don't be offended – old traditions say that gifts for the baby is bad luck. The custom was probably introduced in the old days to avoid disappointment and heartbreak since infant mortality was high. But things are different now, and you can happily accept gifts meant for your baby.
3. Dohale Jevan:
A similar event in Maharashtra is called Dohale Jevan. Translation: satisfying the food cravings of a pregnant lady. The name says it all! The sentiments and events around it are very similar to Godh Bharai – you'll wear a beautiful new sari and glittering ornaments; there will be lots of traditional songs and specially cooked dishes. There'll be lots of people wishing you and your baby well, giving presents, and sharing in your joy.
4. Baby Shower:
Nowadays, these traditional events are sometimes combined with the western concept of a Baby Shower. A Baby Shower is a party held by your friends before your baby is born. The term 'Baby Shower' came into use because the gifts were literally showered on the mom-to-be. In the Victorian era, the gifts were put in an umbrella, and opened over the head of the mom-to-be! Yippee!
Your friends and co-workers will indulge you, and present gifts that will be useful during late pregnancy, early motherhood and post-pregnancy. You can be pretty sure of receiving items that will be of great use once the baby arrives.
Traditionally, baby showers were held for only the firstborn, but now, there are baby showers for subsequent children, and sometimes, there are multiple baby showers for the same child, organized by different circles of friends.
There are similar traditions elsewhere in the country, like Saadh in Eastern India and Pulakuli in Kerala. Muslims and Sikhs might not have a specific tradition, but they honour their pregnant women in similar ways, and commemorate the new life in the mother-to-be with gifts and good cheer.
Whether it is a traditional event or a baby shower, if you are the mom-to-be, you thankfully won't have much to do except to sit back and enjoy all the attention! Make sure that you take plenty of rest before and after the event, and do watch what you eat. It would be a nice gesture to send a heartfelt 'thank you' message to everybody for their presence at the event, and for their gifts.
Depending on your inclination and interest, feel free to celebrate your pregnancy as you deem fit. Whatever the customs or traditions you follow (or don't follow!) don't really matter, because all these celebrations have one common element – everybody wants to partake in your joy and wishes the very best for you and your child!
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