Tamil Family celebrate their child birthday with Tamil song

India being a vast and diverse sea of humanity has many different customs and celebrations in different areas—Godh Bharai (North Indian Hindus), Valakaappu (Tamil Hindus) and Seemandham (South Indian Hindus) to name a few. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bengal etc. also have their own twists on these ceremonies.

The common thread in India is to bless the expecting mom and pray for the well being of the mother and the baby. It is the mom-to-be who is showered with blessings and bounty – cash, clothes or even jewellery – a sort of a “mother-to-be shower”. Also, traditionally it is attended by the women-folk.

According to the Indian tradition, it is considered inauspicious to buy any clothes or other items for the baby before the baby is born (possibly because in olden days, the percentage of babies dying during childbirth was high).

In fact when the baby is born, the baby is made to wear old clothes of some other member of the family. The thinking is that the material will be soft for the soft baby skin and the positive family vibes and values will be passed to the baby.

Of course with global influences, this is changing in many families.

Baby showers are very popular in the United States. Friends and family come and “shower” the new mom-to-be with gifts for the baby – a very practical way to help a couple gear up (from baby clothes to a pram) for the new baby and of course to pamper the mom-to-be. Here is how it is celebrated:

Baby showers are typically for first time moms or moms who are having a baby after a few years gap – the motive is that these folks would not have any baby stuff. But there is no hard and fast rule as such about this.

Many couples in the United States do what is called a baby registry. This involves parents listing the baby stuff they want (clothe gear like pram, cradle, toys etc.) at a particular shop and guests will know what to get them. As guests keep selecting the gifts, those items keep getting eliminated from the list. Voila! After the shower, the dad and mom are pretty much set with baby shopping.

Traditionally, only women would attend. But now couples shower are getting popular with the dads being more involved.

Traditionally, to be held in the 7th or 9th month (odd months for luck). But 7th month is most popular. But these days, folks are flexible and have in the 8th month as well. Another reason to have in the 7th month is practical: so that you can take stock of the baby shower gifts and have time to get what might be needed.

The shower can be a surprise or a planned one. It is hosted by a close friend / relative. Sometimes, the dad-to-be also hosts it. In fact a side trend is the expecting couple giving their own baby shower to their friends / family. Sort of sharing with them and a last hooray before the baby.

There are snacks / food and fun games. Some popular games to give you an idea are

Guessing the mom’s girth. Everyone gets a thread and has to guess how big the mom’s belly is. Of course, the person who guesses the closest is the winner.

Baby item memory game. A bunch of baby items (nappies, clothes, baby lotion etc. etc.) are placed on a tray and taken away soon. Folks have to remember the items on the tray.

Many will open the baby shower gifts with the guests around. Of course there are many “oohs and aahhs” and teasing with the womenfolk looking at the cute baby stuff.

Typically, the mom-to-be will send out thank you notes after the baby shower.