Traditional Baby Shower

Traditional Baby Shower also known as “Gurwari Jevan” or “Phulam Malche” in Konkani.

Pursuant to my last post on Postpartum Care – Foods for lactating mothers it is not only the new mother who is celebrated but also the pregnancy is celebrated with a baby shower.

There are several traditions and much focus on baby showers, especially the modern ones which are themed and color coordinated in keeping with the expected baby’s gender, etc.  The World Wide Web abounds with information on such showers, but lacks sufficient information on traditional ones. The traditional baby showers therefore seem to be losing their appeal as people are not very well aware of the customs and rituals or simply don’t wish to follow their culture and traditions anymore.  I love traditions and I think it is important that ‘culture’ (social structures/society we grew-up in) should be preserved as it is an important link to our past and our future which reinforces social cohesion.

Upon enquiring with several family and friends and with specific input from Mrs. Gracy Rodrigues, I was able to plan the so-called traditional baby shower or Gurwari Jevan as it is called in the Mangalorean community.

The rationale for a traditional baby shower is for the pregnant woman to seek the blessings of the elders of the family, relatives and friends for a safe delivery and for the birthing of a normal & healthy baby.

Secondly, as custom dictates, the first delivery is usually at her mother’s “kulara” and for this purpose she goes to her mother’s home “kular”  in her seventh or ninth month and the ‘Gurwari Jevan’ is held to celebrate this occasion as her parents and relatives would come to the in-laws’ ‘mavado’ to take her home to her “kulara”.

It also celebrates the fertility of the woman and all her desires are to be fulfilled by her family on this day.  The menu then incorporates her favorite dishes and she is bedecked with traditional flowers i.e. jasmine or mogra in her hair, jewellery, and new traditional attire (saree), for the ceremony.

Tradition dictates the following rituals which usually takes place at Lunch time and ideally for ‘women-only’ guests:-

  1. The mother-to-be is presented with a saree by her mother-in-law  which should typically be of any shade of green, as green signifies fertility.
  2. She then changes into this saree.
  3. The women will help her dress and put flowers in her hair and bangles (usually red and green color) on her wrist.  The jingling sound of the bangles produce pleasing sounds so that the baby comes into a world of positive vibrations.
  4. The ceremony begins with prayers for the well-being of the mother-to-be and that of the baby invoking blessings of the Almighty.
  5. After prayers, she takes blessings from all the elders and good wishes from the rest of the family and guests.
  6. She is then presented with fruit and sweets which she takes to her mother’s home. Various fruit like bananas, apples, oranges and sweets can be given. The sweets must be fried sweets like, jalebi, malpua, boondi laddoo, balushahi, mysore pak…etc. The total number of fruit/sweet platters must be in odd number i.e 1, 3, 5, 7 etc. and each platter must also contain an odd number of the specific fruit/sweet.  These are then to be distributed to the family and friends at her mavado.
  7. All her favorite dishes are cooked to ensure her desires are satisfied and as in the Mangalorean custom always rounded off with the traditional ‘Vorn’ as dessert which is a universal favorite.
  8. Her mother also brings to the in-laws, fruit/sweets as a gesture of good-will.
  9. Lunch is then served and the mother-to-be and her husband are invited to first partake of the feast and is served by her mother-in-law. A typical menu would include Pork, Mutton Roce curry, Chicken Sukha, Chana Bhaji, Pulao/Steamed Rice, Salad, Pickle, Sannas and Vorn although not limited to these alone. All these recipes can be found in the book “Mais Recipes“.
  10. When she is ready to depart to her mother’s home ‘kulara’, a few members from her ‘mavado’ husband’s family also accompany her to reach her to her ‘kular’ her mother’s home.

This ceremony is performed in the 7th or 9th month of pregnancy and for the first pregnancy only.

It is said that it is also performed for the 13th pregnancy, provided all twelve children of the woman are living! Hmm… interesting. 

Our traditional baby shower was in November, 2015 and the ceremony we had for my elder daughter-in-law Charmaine, was a mix of the traditional and modern.  We invited the entire family i.e. women, men and children for the ‘Guwari Jevan’.  We had the traditional prayers lead by my sister-in-law Diana, blessing, and other rituals as stated above but also some baby shower games, conducted by my younger daughter-in-law Valencia, to keep the guests engaged and entertained.

IMG-20151113-WA0008

IMG-20151113-WA0009

Since my son and daughter-in-law were aware of the baby’s gender, we also had the gender-reveal game where the guests were asked to pick their choice of pink or blue button-holes upon arrival, which they were required to wear during the party. In keeping with our custom, flowers (jasmine) were also distributed to the female guests.

Traditional Baby Shower button hole

The cake was then cut to reveal the gender and this video says it all……………..

Charms Baby shower favors (22)

At the end of the party, home-made baby shower favors i.e. chocolate babies and coffee mugs filled with assorted chocolates were distributed to kids and edible favors made of marzipan and chocolate were distributed to families. A key-chain, with a picture of Charmaine and Raoul with a thank-you message was also distributed courtesy Charmaine’s parents which her father personally arranged.

Charms Baby Shower Key Chain

Home-made edible party favors, presentation:-

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