Thursday, December 29

Red, Green,Blue,yellow...

I am not a big fan of wearing bangles , and despite the fact that I find  glass bangles gorgeous, I have never "loved "wearing them-until now,that is. My lovely multi-hued bangles tinkle and go chling-chling even if i make the slightest move.. Oh, they are so delightfully colourful to look at too ! I had my traditional baby shower yesterday and because we didn't want two different ceremonies (one thrown by parents and one by the in-laws ), I had both the ceremonies clubbed into one.

The "Valaikaapu" is conducted by the girl's family and is a social function , as opposed to the Seemantham (conducted by the boy's side) ,which involves some heavy duty mantra-chanting and religious rituals. Both these ceremonies are done in the eighth month of pregnancy ( according to the Tamil calender. Rashis of the boy and girl are taken into consideration to arrive at the date). My Valaikaapu-Seematham function started very early yesterday morning at around five (YAWWWWN!). Women from my family took turns and slipped colourful glass bangles on my arm. 

There are several versions of why pregnant women are made to wear glass bangles. My grandma told me that this ritual is done so that the unborn baby keeps hearing the  cheerful clinking sound at all times . My mother tells me that maybe this was done those days (when there were no lights sun-down) to ensure that people could keep tabs on the pregnant women at all times.Somehow, the tradition has continued and nobody really has a sure shot answer to why this being done.My take is that it is just another occasion to let the ladies get together,fawn over the pregnant woman  and bless the unborn baby.Well, also I love my stack of bangles and really don't care why it is done really :-)My grandma started the ceremony (being the eldest lady around).

First bangles in- My grandma and the hubby's aunt look on.

My favourite second cousin does her bit !
 Though women younger than the pregnant women are normally not allowed to take part , we let my second cousin slip in a few bangles. Traditionally, one arm is supposed to contain twelve bangles and the other thirteen , but I ended up with around twenty-six on one arm and twenty-three on the other.More the merrier!

My personal rainbow..
 The Valaikaapu got over in half hour and I rushed to change into another saree- the traditional nine-yards saree called "Madisaar".Married women in our community are supposed to wear the Madisaar for any significant functions in the family. I have worn mine just a bunch of times, as i find the draping extremely difficult and cannot manage without help. I do have to admit this that it is super comfortable (more so than the normal 6-yard draping ) ,because of the way it is worn. It is almost like wearing jeans/salwar.
The Seemantham function went on for a few hours , and thankfully I was  provided with a chair to sit on while the hubby fed the havan ghee ,chanted mantras and performed the rituals. The purohit (we call them sastrigal) who performed the rituals explained the significance of the ceremony to us- that the mantras were supposed to energise the baby and make sure that it is healthy when it is born. 

Eyes watering from all  the smoke..
The magic concoction- baby's first medicine before its birth.
 The two kids you see in the picture are grinding a  herb with milk.This is normally done by two girls who haven't attained puberty ,but we had only one girl around  and had to make do with a boy ;-)   I thought it was awesome , because both genders got equal representation !This juice was then dropped into my nostril by the hubby and is supposed to be the first medicine the baby gets before it is born. 
The medicine administration- nobody gets to see us sneezing!
 I was warned by so many people that this medicine brought forth  violent sneezes and that I had to control myself somehow. Strangely, I was ok and managed to drag in all the juice.
Everyone yap-yap-yapping
 The sastrigal , then made hubby drag the "Seemantha" , a contraption made out of porcupine quill from the navel to the forehead. Apparently, the woman is supposed to have her "maang" or centre parting done only after this ceremony.
Hubby dragging the "Seemantha" over me.The thing was damn sharp!
Ceremony concluded with the haarthi by my aunt and the hubby's aunt

Wait.. it's not over yet ! I had another dress change- phew! and a mini-ceremony called Poo-chootal (meaning Flower ceremony). Insane quantities of flowers were pinned to my poor hair. I had short hair before I got pregnant and was coerced by my mother into growing my hair especially for this ceremony! I can officially get my hair cut now.. yay!!! Mothers,I say ..Then , we had some ritual where they placed a few coins on me (palm, feet, shoulders) and asked me to balance them(which of course, I couldn't). My relatives (married women only) took turns to move a coconut from my head to toe three times. My aunts and cousins groaned as their calf muscles objected and creaked ; many sidey jokes were cracked about how I was finally getting revenge for all that they had made me undergo that morning . Ah , well.. lets just say I had the last laugh.Nobody had a clue why they were  performing some rituals, except that their mothers and grandmothers had done it at their own baby showers. A baby is being born into our family after a really long time and people were a little rusty about the actual protocols to be followed .Everyone contributed their two cents and we patched together some strange rituals ;-)

My aunt does the coconut thingie
Then, many  songs were sung and everyone went and had  a sumptuous South-Indian lunch ;-) I forgot my GD for a day and hogged as much as possible(sweets included). I am dreading my blood sugar test that I have to take in a few days.. Sigh! So yeah, that was how my Valaikaapu-Seemantham went. One of the reasons I wanted to put all this down  on the blog was because I normally cannot remember things  after two-three days ,and this is one day I want to remember for a long, long  time ...

Anyway, wish you all a Happy New year and see you in 2012 ;-)


Sampige said...

LOVELY LOVELY LOVELY! Loved the pictures. Loved the write-up. I wish you a wonderful pregnancy and a safe delivery. May you be blessed with all happiness in the coming year. It reminded me of all the functions I have attended for my friends sisters and mannis.

Uma said...

super summing up of the event. I had mine refreshed!
"rusty about actual protocols and patching together strange rituals"
sounds sooo familiar..:-)
Enjoy the last few weeks and gear up for the next phase!!!
All the best!
p.s. you look wonderful in the snaps!

Hema said...

So we can expect the baby soon.. It will keep you busy afterwards.. brings back wonderful memories.. all the best!

Bhargavi said...

My3.. Thank you for your lovely wishes.Wishing you a fabulous 2012 as well!

Uma..Thanks..Somehow, its still not sinking in and the gears remain stubbornly unchanged ;-) I have more than a few weeks to go!

Hema..I know its going to be one roller coaster ,for sure.Thanks for dropping by..

Bikramjit said...

Congratulations to you .. Heres wishing all the best and happy happy times to come..
the pictures are good

I have been in uk so have missed all these occassions back home with my cousins and all ..

Take care ..


Asha said...

Lovely pics and excellent write up. Glad you recorded this.

Same pinch on madisaar, even i find this convenient than 6 yard.

Happy times ahead for you, god bless!!

Exciting Songs (ES) said...

I generally find the rituals too boring. I generally put my foot down and ignore the little rituals that are conducted in my place! I do insist on knowing why some ritual is being conducted and if no one has enough answer, I assume its for show-off and do not participate. I know its silly, but I never got to enjoy the rituals!

Bhargavi said...

Bikram..Thanks ! I can only imagine how horrible it must be that you cant be around family during occasions.

Asha..Thanks for the lovely wishes.Good to see you here after a long time.

ES.. I used to rebel against doing rituals , but with age I've realized that it doesn't matter as long as it is against any of my principles.

Nautankey said...

Soooper perusu...nice seeing the snaps..congrats again :)

Deeps said...

What a lovely post! All you ladies seem to have had major fun at teh valaikappu, esp you with all the pampering showered on you :). Heres wishing you all the best for teh rest of your pregnency term and a safe delivery :). Looking forward to hearing about your li'l one's arrival :)

Take care, Bhargavi!

Smita said...

Ah!!!!! So many rituals are fun because of the simple fact that we don't why we are doing it ;) in fact sometimes it even happens that what is being done is complete opposite of what shud have been done :D

But ur sarees are awesome!!! :)

Psst enjoy the attention that u r getting post the delivery it will all b e focussed one someone else ;)

vimmuuu said...

LOL, you look so funny paatteee !! :D :D :D

Bhargavi said...


Nautenkey..thanks fr dropping by..

Deeps ..Yeah, it was good fun! ..Sure, will keep you all posted.

Smita.. I am not a normally ritual person.. but then ,one needs to let go sometime and toe the lines of people around .. I was actually tired of all the attention and will be glad when the attention shifts to the lil one when its born ;)

Vimmu.. nalla siri! every dog has his day :-)

Meera Ganesh said...

Hey Bhargavi, you reminded me of my seemantham. Might I add, you look gorgeous.... kalyana kalai ellam sidela thooki vei, pregnant kalai romba azhagha irukku. Sending happy thoughts your way. Ammava drishti sutthi poda sollu.

Anonymous said...

wow bhargavi! you look gorgeous in all the snaps!talk about our rituals!! even i had valaikaapu- poo-chootal- seemantham combined on one day:) email more close-up snaps pls.. like you said, yet another of those customs where both sets of family gets together, has yummy food (which of course is the main agenda)!not the time to worry abt sugar tests!

Bhargavi said...

Meera..Thanks for the lovely words and the happy thoughts ;-)

Life..danku danku ..close-upsa? bayandhuduve!

Anonymous said...

:) ths post got me nostalgic - i too had this in a verrrry small way- we do not have ths custom, bt we had tamil neighbors who were so fond of me :) tht they did the stuff thnking me to b a part of their family :)
u look lovveely! tho th baby bump isnt all tht visible..congratts :)

Seяendipity™ said...

Hey there, All I have to say is that you look pretty :) Beautiful pretty here :) Everything I want to say has been taken :)

Jyoti said...

Beautiful post! It is one of the kind that will make you smile year after year..

Happy New Year!

Bhargavi said...

Verbi.. Good to see you here after so long ! Thanks. I don''t have that huge a bump,actually and the saree just helped matters ;-)

Serendipity..Thanks for the nice words.. welcome here!

Jyoti..Sure, will.Thanks for the lovely wishes. HAppy new year to you too!

Anonymous said...

Hi ..Lovely pictures.Your description of the ceremonies was spot on and took me back to attending a few of these as a little kid years ago..
Good luck for a safe and happy delivery!

Bhargavi said...

pop.. Thanks for dropping by and the lovely wishes.