Seemantham, godh bharai, valaikaapu: Indian customs for baby showers

Indian customs for baby showers

Seemantham, Godh bharai, Valaikappu: Indian baby shower customs

Come the final trimester, and most traditional Indian households start humming with the preparation for the upcoming baby shower. Many families may also not plan to have a baby shower, but instead plan a puja for after baby arrives.

How do you celebrate Godh Bharai, Valaikappu & Seemantham?

Godh Bharai is the Indian baby shower planned to bless the mother-to-be with abundant joys of motherhood. It is also the day to specially pamper her with gifts and a feeling of festivity and positive vibes around her. In Hindi, godbharai literally means “filling the lap”. In Bengali, this custom is called shaad; in Tamil, valaikappu; in Kerala, seemantham; and in Marathi, dohale jevan.

The reason behind planning a baby shower in the seventh month is that by now, the mother and the baby are safe and pretty much risk free. While the customs of the baby shower may differ from one community to another, the basic idea is the same – blessing the unborn baby and showering the mother-to-be with gifts and blessings. Mostly, the tradition is to bestow gifts only on the mother; gifts for the baby come only after its birth.

Traditionally, the baby shower is a “woman only” gathering, which involves a lot of singing, dancing, and a fair amount of teasing and fun (remember Didi Tera Devar?). There may also be some games such as guessing the gender of the baby. Some games including selecting either a barfi or a peda between two covered bowls; or a between a ring or a bangle. One means girl and the other means boy.

Scientific relevance of Seemantham, Godh Bharai, Valaikappu

In the traditional Indian baby shower ceremony like Seemantham, dozens upon dozens of glass bangles are gifted to the pregnant lady by all elders in the family. These are mostly red and green in color, where the color red signifies energy and life while green symbolises luck in marriage and fertility. The science behind this tradition is that in the 7th month of pregnancy, the brain cells of the baby start becoming active and the baby starts to record the vibration and sounds from the surrounding. It is believed that the jingling sound of bangles helps the mother be stress free and relaxed while also providing an acoustic stimuli for the unborn baby.

A modern day baby shower in India

While traditional ceremonies like Valaikaappu and Seemantham are still being practiced by a majority of South Indian Hindu families there has been a growing recent trend of celebrating a more western style “baby shower” as a result of the influx of foreign-returned Indians. This combined with increasing incomes and growing trend of nuclear families many urban parents-to-be are flocking to grab the best baby products and they welcome this concept of baby showers.

Some other families are combining traditional godh-bharai rituals with an American style baby shower. Examples of these are:

  • Western baby shower with ethnic glimpses of godh bharai ceremony which may include haldi-kumkum; singing folk songs and dancing, mehendi (henna) and gifting of bangles.
  • Valaikappu / Seemantham followed by a western style baby shower. This seems to be very popular with NRIs families.
  • The most striking differentiating feature in these modern baby showers has to be that more and more dads-to-be are now active participants in these ceremonies.

Tips to enjoy your own God-bharai

To ensure that you enjoy your own godbharai, follow these tips:

  • Take adequate rest before the gathering begins.
  • Ensure that you wear comfortable clothing during the rituals, so that you can enjoy freely.
  • Don’t overindulge in the gamut of fried food offered in the traditional rituals.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Don’t hesitate to take a break from the festivities to lie down for a while.
  • Trust your instincts when it comes to enjoying and dancing.

Whatever the celebration, make sure you get adequate rest before the event. Now relax and have fun. You deserve this special time. Enjoy!