Godh bharai is a traditional Indian baby shower celebrated during pregnancy to welcome the unborn baby to the family and bless the mother-to-be with abundant joys of motherhood. In Hindi, godh bharai literally means to ‘fill the lap’ with abundance. In Bengal, it is known as shaad, in Kerala, seemandham, and in Tamil Nadu, it is called valakappu. While this ritual is mostly done in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, the time when it is performed may vary by regions and families.
Traditionally, it is celebrated with the women in the family and the mother-to-be is made to feel special by showering her with gifts, a lot of singing and dancing, fun filled games and special foods. It depends on the community the family belongs to. In some families the ceremony is held when the mother-to-be completes her seventh month of pregnancy. It is believed that after the seventh month, the baby and mother are in a safe phase. In some families it is celebrated at the end of the eighth month. Some families also choose not to have a godh bharai ceremony and prefer to have a puja only after the birth of the baby. While the rituals followed in various parts of the country on the occasion of godh bharai may differ, the essence remains the same – to bless the unborn baby and shower the pregnant mum-to-be with blessings and gifts. In some homes, the pregnant mum-to-be is anointed with special oils by the elderly women in the family. She is then dressed up in a special saree and adorned with flowers. A puja is performed before the festivities begin. Traditionally, godh bharai is a ‘women-only’ gathering. The ceremony may include adorning the mum-to-be with jewellery, making her wear bangles, filling her lap with gifts, fruits and sweets and laying out a feast before her. It is also common for the ceremony to be filled with singing, dancing and a fair amount of teasing and fun. It may include some games such as guessing the gender of the baby by the size and shape of the pregnant mum’s belly or creating a names list for your baby.
In most traditional homes, gifts such as bangles, clothes or cash are given only for the mum-to-be. Gifts for the baby are given only after the birth. Your godh bharai is a wonderful time for the family to come together and celebrate your pregnancy and the arrival of your little one. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your special day. It is a good idea to get adequate rest before the ceremony as it may get hectic and tire you.