Godh bharai is the traditional Indian Baby Shower ceremony celebrated in north India. It is very similar to the Tamilian “Valakappu (or “Seemantham”,) Kannada “Sreemantha”, Bengali “Shaad”, and Maharastrian “Dohale Jevan”
Godh bharai in Hindi essentially translates to “filling the lap” of the mother-to-be with good wishes and blessings. It is celebrated to welcome the expectant mom into motherhood as also to bless her for a safe and healthy delivery/baby.
When is Godh Bharai performed?
Traditionally, Godh Bhrari is celebrated in the odd months – 7th or 9th. Most of them prefer to finish the ceremony in the 7th month as they believe the 9th month is very close to the delivery date.
How is Godh Bharai celebrated?
The Godh Bharai function is like a mini wedding of sorts where a large gathering of friends and family are invited. Traditionally it used to be an all-woman affair. However, men from close family circles also join the celebrations. Though there are regional differences the way in which it is celebrated, the significance remains much the same.
On the day of the function, the expectant mother is made to look like a bride. She’s bedecked with jewels, adorned with sweet smelling flowers and draped in a grand new sari. She is ushered in from the main entrance of the house towards the puja room. As she enters, the women around her cheer her by singing traditional songs. When she reaches the puja room, she is made to sit and a red dot is put on her forehead for good luck.
In some communities, women from the expecting lady’s mother’s side bring five metal plates which are colourfully painted and elaborately decorated. Three of these plates contain assorted Indian sweets. The fourth has clothes and jewellery and the fifth one contains a coconut with a red swastika painted on it, a cloth piece (red, green or yellow) and a few coins. These are placed near the foot of the mother-to-be during the puja.
Starting with the mother and mother-in-law, all the other ladies in the gathering come forward one by one to bless the pregnant mother by performing an aarthi and showering her with gifts, fruits, clothes, sweets etc. Soft music is played in the background.
- In some communities, the sister-in-law offers the pregnant woman a cup of sweetened saffron milk . Then she ties a yellow thread- known as a nada chhadi – on the wrist of the right arm. This thread is believed to protect both the expectant mother and the unborn child from evil spirits.
- In a few other communities, the ladies adorn her had with green or red bangles after applying the traditional “kumkum”. The sound of these bangles is believed to reach the womb and comfort the fetus.
The function culminates with a lavish feast where the invitees are treated to a wide spread of delicacies – some of which are the pregnant mom’s favourite picks. But before that, there is a lot of singing, dancing and camaraderie. Special songs meant for mom and baby are played. Fun games are played too
Game ideas for Godh Bharai
As much it is a traditional occasion, there is a lot of fun and festivity during the godh bharai ceremony. Singing and dancing is accompanied by teasing and ribbing besides some games to make it more memorable for the expecting mom.
Guess the food cravings: Ask the guests to make a list of 5 things that the mom craved for most during her pregnancy. The person who gets the most correct answers wins.
Guess the girth of mom’s tummy: Distribute strips of ribbon and ask the guests to guess the circumference by cutting the ribbon accordingly. The person who makes the closest guess is the winner.
Memory Game: Keep about 15-20 baby items on a tray. It could by anything from booties, to bibs, pacifiers, feeding bottles, rattle, diaper pins, teethers etc. Allow them to see it for 2 minutes and then take it away. Now give each one a paper and pen and ask them to list the things from memory. The person who remembers the most things wings.
Pick up the right pair: Take a couple of dozens of different coloured booties. Now separate the pair and put each of the pair into two different pouches. Now mix them up thoroughly. Take it around and ask the guests to pick up a single booty from each pouch. The first to pick up the correct pair is the winner.
DID YOU KNOW? In some communities, it is considered a bad omen to give gifts to the unborn child. Therefore, gifts are only given only to the expectant mother and not the baby.
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A few tips to keep you happy and cheerful
· It’s a big day for you, so make get ample sleep and rest before the ceremony so that you can stay bight and chirpy for the function.
· If the function is during the summer months, make sure to drink enough water so that you don’t get dehydrated.
· If you’re choosing to wear a sari, make sure it’s not very heavy. It may bog you down and tire you quickly, robbing you of the fun and frolic.
· Make sure you keep away from foods that don’t agree with you.
Tips & Tricks
If you water bag breaks, stay calm and call your gynaec. Wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothes and on the way to the hospital, use a plastic sheet to prevent the car seat from getting soiled.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Dry fruits are a rich source of iron and contain high dietary fibre. They also meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy