5 Must Know Indian Pregnancy Traditions & Customs

Pregnancy and childbirth are treated with a plethora of traditional precautionary measures in each and every corner of the world. This is no different in India.

These customs are believed to keep the mother and the unborn child safe from any harm. Just as every pregnancy is unique, the customs and traditional practices vary from one place to another from pregnancy myths to predicting baby’s sex.

We’ve master-crafted a list of Indian Pregnancy Customs in order to get you familiar with some traditional practices.

1. Punsavana- The male-making rite

Considering India’s obsession with the male child, it’s no wonder that people perform male-making rite during the third month of the pregnancy sanctifying the fetus and emphasizing the continuity of a family through a male heir. The prevalent belief of many states that the deity governing the sex of the fetus is activated and a male child is assured. Sons are preferred over daughters because the traditional social set-up in India focuses on the son as being the breadwinner of the family, caretaker of the parents, and the one to light the funeral pyre of the parents.

2. Simmanantannaya—also known as Valaiakappu

A popular Indian practice known as Simmanantannaya is the custom where the pregnant lady wears red or green glass bangles from the seven months of gestation. The sound of these bangles is believed to reach the womb and comfort the fetus. Also known as Valaiakappu, the focus of this sacrament is the well-being of the baby. These bangles are removed after the delivery of the baby and given to the midwife.

3. Godhbharai- the Indian version of Baby Shower

Godhbharia is a well-cherished Indian custom that roughly translates to ‘fill the lap.’ After the seventh month of pregnancy, Indian families celebrate a woman’s pregnancy by performing prayers, showering the would-be-mother with blessings and gifts, and throwing a lavish meal in the unborn baby’s honor. Traditional festive tunes are played during the function to make it a fun event.

4. Seemantham: Uplifting the brain of the baby in the womb

According to the Indian custom, this ceremony is organized by the in-laws of the to-be-mom during the fifth, seventh, or ninth month of pregnancy. In this ritual the pregnant lady listens to religious hymns and the sound of the glass bangles to calm her mind and send a positive vibe to the baby in the womb.

In fact, this custom is supported by a scientific study that baby’s memory cells start to activate after the seven months of pregnancy. Hence the unborn child can record the sounds and vibrations from its surroundings. Elders believe that by performing seemantham, the baby will be sharp and intellect.

5. Avoid funerals

As per the traditional Indian belief, during pregnancy women ought to abstain from funerals for the fear of the dearly departed souls lingering too close to an unborn child. The natives carry the belief that nurturing a new life and giving a farewell to one don’t mix well. So avoiding funerals is a precautionary measure to provide safe and positive ambiance to the unborn baby and the mother-to-be.

All these customs are performed to ward off evil from the pregnant lady and pray for the well-being of both to-be-mom and the unborn child.

Concluding notes

Just like marriages, pregnancy is also celebrated with much fervor in India, the land of customs and traditions. Many rituals are passed down from ancestors through generations and have undergone numerous changes. However, the basis of these traditions remains the same- to pray for a safe pregnancy and birth of a healthy child.

While the above traditions remain relevant today, some younger generation Indian couples may attach less significance to them relative to older generations. The actual implementation will somewhat depend on family background, how one is raised.

No killing during pregnancy

Pregnant women and her husband are forbidden to kill animals. Because, if it is done, can cause fetal defects in accordance with their action.

Fact: Of course not so. Fetal defects caused by errors / malnutrition, disease, heredity or effects of radiation. While the death of the fetus is most often caused by disease, extreme movements performed by the mother (e.g. collisions) and because of the psychological (e.g. shock, stress, fainting). But, keep in mind, to kill or injure an animal is an act that cannot be justified.

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Disliking when Pregnant

When a woman is pregnant, she is not supposed to dislike or hate a person for whatever reason too deeply. It is believed that the baby will be born with a face (and or behavior) that really looks alike with the disliked person.

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Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, and Cleft Lip and Palate Babies

People who are knowledgeable about science, especially biology, know that the characteristics of a woman’s child depend on the characteristics the child acquired from his parents or from the relatives of his parents (family history) and the development of the child. Some Filipinos from the places away from the cities (bario) believe that pregnant women should be taken care of very well and she should avoid falls. This is actually a good practice but they have different reason from the others. While people who have been educated or those who live in the cities believe in this because they want to avoid premature labor and misconception or abortion, people from the barios believe that they should not let a pregnant woman fall because she might deliver a baby with cleft lip, cleft palate, or cleft lip and palate.

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People in the Philippines believe in lihi. It is when pregnant women starve for a food always or would always want to see or have something. Lihi is a noun, naglihi (past tense) and maglilihi or maglihi (future tense) are verbs. Old people say that people should only show pregnant women photographs of beautiful and handsome people so that the baby will also become beautiful or handsome. Women who always want to see someone especially if that someone annoys or entertains her so much, the baby will look like that someone. If the woman will experience lihi with a monkey, the child will look like a monkey; if with turtles, the child might become a hunchback; if with radish, the child will have fair and smooth complexion.

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Hoping Over the Husband

Pregnancy is not easy to women. Sometimes, aside from the heaviness of their abdomen, they would need to resize or buy another set of clothes which are bigger than their usual called maternity dresses. They may also feel sick and lazy, might crave for specific foods, and have mood swings. Sometimes, because they think that both husband and wife did something to make the wife pregnant, the suffering should be shared. The man also has to feel what the woman feels. In the Philippines, they believe that pregnant women can pass what she feels on her husband by hoping over him or his body while he is asleep.

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Every person can have a perception about moles especially if they see someone with visible ones. Some may look at others as sexy if they have moles on the face, some may find it cute, and some may not want those. In the Philippines, it is believed that people who have moles in the eyebrows are lucky in business. Those who have moles on the finger(s) should be watched out for they may tend to get things which are owned by others. Moles on the sole of whether right or left foot or both may signify that the person loves to walk. If a person has a mole on his back, he might be lazy.

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