How would you choose to have your Godh bharai ceremony?
Strictly traditional ceremony or more modern party? The Godh bharai has assumed a new avatar over the years. How will yours be?
Last week, I was invited to my friend’s godh bharai ceremony. I expected it to be a traditional event, so I took my grandmother along. But when I stepped into her house, I was surprised to see her dancing to hip-hop music, sporting her bump in a red maternity gown. What’s more, her family was excitedly egging her on.
Whatever happened to the conservative women-only event, where the expecting mum is only made to sit and accept the blessings of the elderly? “I don’t think it will happen beta, everyone is busy dancing,” my friend’s mum quipped.
My south Indian grandmother was a bit scandalised by this kind of ceremony. She personally oversaw my seemantham (the term for godh bharai in states of southern India), and it was a strictly religious, family only affair.
The traditional godh bharai ceremony seems to have assumed a new avatar. Every mum wants to have one, and wants it her way. And why not? After the wedding, a baby shower party is probably a woman's last time in the limelight before her life becomes completely about the baby. So like a lot of religious ceremonies, godh bharais too, are keeping the essence intact, but are changing. Here’s a look at the evolution of godh bharai ceremonies over the years.
The traditional Godh bharai Ceremony
Though rituals vary from region to region, most traditional godh bharai ceremonies take place in the seventh month of pregnancy. The expectant mother wears her best sari(the heavier, the better) and is adorned with jewellery and special flowers. She is then seated before the place of worship in the house and her lap is filled with rice, a coconut and gifts by her mother-in-law.
The expecting mum’s mother, sister and all other female relatives and friends follow suit. All those present collectively bless the mother-to-be to have a safe delivery and bear more “fruits”(read - babies) in the future. Some communities have a puja or havan before the celebration on an auspicious date. Traditional songs are sung and simple games are played.
In most traditional godh bharais, after the rituals, the mother-to-be was expected to leave for her matriarchal house for the delivery. Gifts for the baby are considered inauspicious before the birth. And conventionally, the godh bharai was a ‘ladies only’ function.
A little bit of party a little bit of ritual
Some expecting mums opt for a middle ground when it comes to celebrating a baby shower. Mumbai-based Pallavi Tilekar’s godh bharai was an example of such a type.
“My in-laws and husband are completely non-religious and hence we were not in favour for any kind of rituals. But keeping in mind of the sentiments of the invited guests, we decided to also celebrate it the traditional way. It started with the traditional dohale jevan, followed by a dance by all the ladies,” says the health insurance executive.
But post the ceremony, Pallavi wore a gown and had her bit of fun with cakes and selfies. “I had made cards with messages such as ‘daddy-to-be’ and ‘aunty-to-be’. We even had a maternity photoshoot before the ceremony,” adds Tilekar.Of course, men were allowed in the festivities. One could call it a best of both worlds ceremony.
The modern baby shower
The modern day baby shower is for mums who choose to be more casual about their festivities. I asked Sonali Nirwal Singh why she preferred a more friendly baby shower party to a godh bharai.
"I am a control freak. I have to have a say in everything that remotely involves me. Having a baby shower with a more modern touch was a personal decision. I wanted to equally involve both family and friends," says the Delhi-based school teacher.
Sonali's baby shower had a 'blue or pink' theme and was jam-packed with amusing games which she came up with herself. "I had asked my guests to dress in pink if they thought I was having a girl, blue if they thought I was having a boy and yellow if they felt they were neutral about their guess," she chuckles.
Dressed in a chic gown and tiara, Sonali and her guests had a rollicking time with the games. The feast was more about appetisers and snacks and wasn't restricted to Indian cuisine. There was even a cake cutting ceremony.
However celebrated, the spirit of a godh bharai is to bless the mum-to-be to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. Having a good time during pregnancy is all that matters motherhood strikes.
Do let us know how you celebrated your godh bharai ceremony, in the Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from theIndusparent.com