Exactly one year ago I had my Valaikappu & Seemantham, a traditional Indian “Baby shower” and I thought it’s a good time to share my experience about it.
This is a very common practice all over India with Maharashtians having Dohale Jevan, up north the Godh Bharai and Saadh to the east. Names maybe differ but the ideology is the same – to celebrate & honour the mom-to-be and bless her for a safe pregnancy and healthy delivery.
It was around my 6th month of pregnancy and we went to Mumbai just for the function. Here’s a post on traveling during pregnancy that you might find useful. I remember it as a very very tiring day, almost as elaborate as our wedding, in fact even more! I actually changed 4 Sarees (traditional Indian outfits). I was exhausted out of my wits but loved all the blessings for our little family from friends and family. This is a half-day affair and is usually done for the first child, but many families do it for subsequent pregnancies too.
Let me briefly take you through the ceremonies & the significance of a traditional tambram baby shower:
Part 1: Valaikappu
The festivities start with Valaikappu (Valayal – Bangle + Kaapu – a safety thread), a traditional bangle ceremony in which elder mothers bless the mom-to-be. The bangles are to be worn till the end of pregnancy and I think even after. They say the baby starts hearing around this time and will associate the bangles sounds with its mother.
This is essentially a ladies-only function and the pregnant mother wears a black Saree, probably the only function where black is allowed to be worn. Black is not seen as very auspicious except in the Valaikappu, where it is worn by the mom-to-be to ward off evil eye. Saree #1 – A black Saree
Part 2: Seemantham
I then changed into an old saree given and here’s when we take the ‘baby shower’ very literally. The husband showers me with cold water, I did my ice bucket challenge after all! It was cold AF and totally unexpected but this is said to be for simulation of the mother and baby (please do not try this at home). Saree #2 – an old Saree
Moving on. An elaborate homam (sacred fire & chanting of mantras) is performed by the husband for the welfare of his pregnant wife and their unborn baby. The mantras are said to spread positive vibes which are also passed on to the foetal brain through the mother.
Saree #3 – My wedding saree – the tambram 9 yards saree – Madisaar
After this, there is a haldi ceremony performed by the sister of the husband and the elder women in the gathering. Haldi or turmeric is an integral part of an Indian household and is a multi-tasking super food! It’s medicinal properties are very well known, it is said to ward off evil, purifies the body and is also a symbol of blessing.
With this the religious part of the function was done. There were some social games to relax the situation and have some fun! We had one fun activity of guessing the gender of the baby. Three little kids guessed that we would have a boy and voila – boy he is 😊
Saree #4 – for lunch and rest of the day
The women also danced Garba, since the baby can hear now the chatter & claps. And since the mommy-to-be isn’t embarrassed enough yet 😜
I truly believe that you must constantly surround yourself with positive people more than anything else, and that is half of life’s battle won right there. This is even more true when you are nurturing another human inside you. Do read my post on lifestyle tips during a pregnancy.
How does your family celebrate pregnancies? What are the similarities and differences from the ones mentioned above? Share with me in your comments below!