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.
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 ;-)