Planning Your Baby Shower

Pregnant and nearing your seventh month? It’s time for you to plan your baby shower!

Although the term ‘baby shower’ might seem like yet another Western import into our culture, we Indians have actually been celebrating this ritual since centuries. This is the ritual of celebrating the forthcoming birth of a child by presenting gifts to the mother. Did you know that the ritual or ceremony is called by different names in different parts of India? While in the North, it is called Godh bharai (literally meaning to ‘fill the lap with abundance’, in this case, the pregnant lady’s lap), it is known as Seemandham or Seemantha in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Srimantha in Karnataka, Valaikappu in Tamil Nadu, and Shaad in Bengal. The practices followed in each of these are different though the basic intentions are the same. In contemporary culture, these days, we just call it ‘baby shower’.

Some families though choose not to have any pre-birth ritual at all, preferring to host a grand function only after the baby is born.

In many of the communities, the ceremony may involve the elderly women in the family anointing the expectant mother with special oils. She then wears a special sari or outfit and adorned with flowers, jewellery, and colorful bangles. They then fill her lap with fruits, coconuts, sweets, and gifts. Special meals may be prepared for the day. Singing, dancing, fun, and games may also be a part of the ceremony. A puja may be performed before the festivities and gifting ceremonies begin.

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Nowadays, many families are doing away with these traditionally elaborate customs and practices in favor of shorter and more convenient ceremony. Also, unlike the earlier times when the only people invited to a baby shower would be the families and relatives of the expectant mother and father, today the invitees include more of friends, contemporaries and co-workers.

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 If you are part of a family that adheres to traditional beliefs and customs, you may have to prepare yourself for a traditional ceremony as followed by your family and community. You can still offer your suggestions to make the ceremony interesting and enjoyable.

If, on the other hand, you have the choice to organize your baby shower the way you want it, there is no holding you back and you can let your creativity take over.

Either way, make sure you have a great baby shower, because you deserve it.

Here are some tips that can help you plan for a great baby shower:

  • Prepare your invitation list well in advance to avoid last minute confusion and panic about missed-out names on the list. You can even create or arrange to create a private Facebook event with select invitees.
  • Choose unusual and appealing return gifts. If you don’t have the time, energy or resources to shop, place bulk orders online and have the items delivered to your doorstep.
  • Get ample rest before the ceremony (regardless of whether you have a traditional or modern ceremony) as it may end up tiring you.
  • Select appropriate outfits keeping the weather in mind. Though it is important to look good, it is far more important to be comfortable while doing so. Sitting for many hours in a gorgeous but uncomfortable outfit may be disturbing for the baby in the womb as well. Keep both your and your baby’s comfort in mind while choosing an outfit.
  • If you’re organizing your baby shower on your own (that is, without in-laws or parents around), you can hire a professional planner or service to help you out with the arrangements as it can get stressful. From catering to decoration to photography, they can take care of it all.
  • If having a traditional and orthodox ceremony, take adequate breaks in between as they tend to stretch for hours. Such ceremonies also have lavish feasts laid out specially for the expectant mothers. Avoid the deep-fried and spicy savouries in the feast, tempting though they may seem. If they are being offered to you by the attendees, take small bites and politely decline the large helpings. Ensure you do not eat anything that your doctor has asked you to avoid.
  • And lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the event and have fun!

If you do hold one, when is the right time for it? The ideal time varies from community to community. Some communities hold the ceremony at the end of the seventh month of pregnancy, in the belief that after the seventh month, the baby and mother are in a safe phase. Few others hold it during the end of the eighth month. Regardless of the community, it is often observed that a baby shower is a ‘women-only’ gathering or comprised of a group of women with a few male attendees.

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