Baby shower as the name dictates is a ceremony where the expectant Mother and not to forget dad-to-be, is showered with abundant love, blessings and gifts from their close family circle and friends. Interestingly this pregnancy ritual in India is an age old practice, where prayers are offered for a healthy baby and mother and also for her happy delivery and motherhood.
A period when mom-to-be is made to feel extra special and pampered royally. It is considered to be a women only social gathering, and is celebrated during the third trimester and before the arrival of the child.
Baby shower a.k.a Godh Bharai in different parts of India
Though Baby shower is observed across the world in different traditions and different names, the essence remains the same. As we narrow down to a Hindu tradition, following are the names observed across different states depending on the community they belonged in India:
- In northern India it is known as Godbharaai, in western India, especially Maharashtra, the celebration is known as Dohale jevan, and in West Bengal and Odisha it is called Saadhroshi.
- In southern India, in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh it is called seemantham, valaikappu or poochootal.
- In Karnataka it is called seemanta or kubasa.
- In coastal Karnataka, especially in Tulunadu (Tulu speaking region), the ceremony is also known as “baayake”.
- In Gujarat, it is known as seemant or kholo bharyo.
- In Jain tradition, the baby shower ceremony is often called as “Shreemant”.
- In Kerala it is known as pulikudi or vayattu pongala’, and is practiced predominantly in the Nair community.
Ideal time to have a Valaikappu/Godh Bharai
Each community has their own reason for a perfect time for the ritual. A valaikappu or godh bharai is usually celebrated after the completion of the seventh month of pregnancy. Then, the baby and the mother are believed to be in the safest phase. Hence a 7th or 9th month of the trimester is considered ideal for a Baby shower.
Valaikappu in Tamil Nadu
Traditional Belief from Generation to Generation:
Valaikāppu is a sacred ceremony and must be performed on an auspicious day. This tradition involves a poochootal, were the mom-to-be is decked with fresh flowers on her plated hair. It is usually celebrated on the 3rd or 5th month of pregnancy. These days poochootal is done on the same day of Valaikappu.
Valaikappu also known as Bangle Ceremony is celebrated to ensure that the child feels safe inside the womb, when it hears the clinking sound of the glass bangles worn by the mom-to-be. During this ceremony the mother brings seervarisai (gifts arranged on a big round plates) for her daughter. Gifts from clothes, jewels, fruits, sweets, dry fruits, coconut, betel leaves and nut and also household items are presented.
The ritual starts with a vedic and powerful mantras being recited for about an hour. These mantras give a solid state of mind in preparation for the child’s birth and also sufficient strength to the child in the womb for a healthy and smooth delivery. After the recital, the pregnant woman is allowed to have a holy water bath.
Followed by which she and her husband gets all decked up and sits together for the Baby shower, were the elderly person in the family will start to bless the couple by applying turmeric and kumkum and decorate the woman with colourful glass bangles. Rest of the ladies follow the same pattern, and finish with a mangala Aarthi for the couple, which is performed by five elderly people. The function still continues with the recital of traditional valaikappu songs, carnatic music that creates a pleasant atmosphere.
After such an auspicious ritual a grand feast is arranged for the gathering, where Mom-to-be is first fed with 9 types of food that are rich in nutrients. Like Thayir Sadam, Puli Sadam, Pongal, Elumichai Sadam, Thengai Sadam, Ellu Sadam, Ullundu Sadam, Manga Sadam. By the end of this memorable baby shower, mom-to-be will be sent to her mom’s place for a relaxed delivery.
Tips for an enjoyable Baby Shower
Here are a few tips and ideas for a phenomenal Baby shower
- Rest Assured – Take plenty of rest before the ceremony begins, since its gonna be a long tiring day.
- Dress For the Occasion – Wear comfy dresses like saree or a lehenga as per your choice and custom, more importantly a dress that will help you indulge happily without having you bothered. Avoid heavy Embroidery work and thick sarees, choose a lightweight one so that you can carry them for a long time.
- Moisten your Throat – Drink as much water required to keep yourself hydrated and fresh. Adequate amount of water is good for the growing foetus and mom-to-be.
- Healthy Fare – A variety of sweets and food will be within one’s reach. Eat in small quantities and learn to say ‘No’ politely to avoid aftermath.
- Return Gifts – A token of love and appreciation in the form of return gifts for your guests will make them happy. Gifts like jewelry, cosmetics, bangles, household articles, decorative showpiece, toys for the kids can be presented. Also silver or gold coins as per your budget is an ideal and memorable one for the guests.
- Entertainment – A musical track for the gathering to dance and rejoice. Mehandi can be another source of fun, people who love to adorn their beautiful hands will throb in. This way you can keep the gathering lively and entertained.
Popular Baby shower games you can play
Listing some of the interesting games that one can run on a Baby shower:
- Gender Guessing Games – In India, it is legally not permitted to know the gender of the baby before the birth. Therefore Parents-to-be will be more happy to hear the prediction from their close ones. Traditionally the game involves a bangle and a thread or a chain with a dollar, basically making it revolve over the palm of the mother-to-be. The way it spins determines the gender of the baby.
- Guessing the Due Date – Give people a chance to guess your due dates, once you disclose them the due month. You will be surprised to know who got it right after the birth of the baby.
- Guessing the circumference of the Baby Bump – This is another interesting task you can plan for the day. Pass around the yarn bundle to the team. Ask each of them to cut the yarn estimating the size of the baby bump. Whose so ever has the right yarn length when they come around and check across the circumference wins.
- Guessing what the Mom-to-be Craved for – As a mom-to-be you will most likely develop a craving for food. For example, you might love having Mangoes, a favorite dish from the south or north, a sweet, a dessert or a snack. Person who guessed it right wins the game. Apart from food, one would also crave for a long drive, a short trip, a dress or anything that might fancy her.
- Baby items in the Bag – Yet another fun filled game for the day. Fill a bag with 10 inexpensive baby items like a bib, teething ring, rattle, bottles, diaper and few other goodies. Pass this bag around and ask each of them to feel and guess the items inside the bag. Person who makes the maximum guess wins the game.
Beautiful Traditional songs for Valaikappu function
Traditional valaikappu songs in Tamil Nadu for this auspicious day are as follows:
1. Thaye yashoda – Sudha raghunathan
2. Madhuraashtakam By M.S.Subbulakshmi
3. Theeratha Vilayatu Pillai
5. Azhalagu Kutti Chellam
6. Malargal Kaettaen
7. Alai payuthey kanna
8. Chinnachirru Killiye
9. Maasaru Ponne Varuga
10. Seetha Kalyanam vaibogame
12. Sita Seemantham
13. Vanna kani sool konda
Unique ideas for Baby shower/Godh Bharai
As we wait for the arrival of the baby, there is no better way to celebrate the future mama than with the special gathering of friends and family. Listing down few unique ways to celebrate this special day.
- Befit a Theme – Think of a fancy theme based party which will make the ceremony a grand affair. Here are a few ideas that you would love to set: Jungle -safari theme,vintage theme, Mermaid theme, Balloon and Teddy Bear based theme, Fresh Garden Theme, Baby Rhyme theme and so-forth.
- Together Banquet- If you feel arranging outside food is expensive, then potluck is the best option. You can ask your dear friends and relatives to prepare and bring delicious food keeping your favorite dish in mind.
- Garden Party – You can choose an outdoor location like a garden or a poolside or a beach side to host the party, depending on the weather conditions.
- Do It Yourself – Instead of having a fancy decor at a grandeur location, you may choose to host the ceremony at the comfort of your home. Decorate the backdrop with homemade stuff, charts, ribbons and other hangings. This is another mind blowing option and fun to do.
Gift ideas for Baby shower
If you are on the lookout for what to gift on a baby shower, check this list of items. There is no such thing as a perfect gift but each of them will be a stand alone and amazing to gift.
- Soft Toys
- Name Book
- Parenting Books
- Baby carrier
- Baby Grooming kit
- Handmade Blanket
- Baby toys
- Interesting Baby costume and many more to go..
“A baby is a blessing. A gift from heaven above, a precious little one to cherish and to love.”
If you are planning a baby shower soon, this blog will help you understand the traditions and customs followed in a Valaikappu (Hindu Baby shower in Tamil-Nadu), and a few creative ideas for you to incorporate into your Baby shower , making it a remarkable one. Happy baby Shower!