Baby Shower

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 mother’s home.
  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.



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:-


Postpartum Care – Foods for lactating mothers

For details on Traditional Baby Shower click the link or the image below-

Published 18th January, 2016

Thiklem Sukho Randho (7)
Thiklem (Sukho Randho)

I became a grandmother this January the 10th and I cannot express how elated me and my family are on the birth of our first grandson, a son to my eldest son. I thought it opportune to write a post on Postpartum care dedicated to the new mother, my daughter-in-law, which I hope will also benefit all new mothers.

Postnatal or postpartum care refers to the confinement period immediately post delivery when physical changes that occurred in the body during the nine months preceding delivery, begin the healing process and getting back to its original state. As the new mother would be breastfeeding and also due to the loss of blood during delivery, it is necessary that high quality of nutrition must be provided in this period.

Culture plays a major role in postnatal care and beliefs. Much of the woman’s lifestyle and care during the postpartum period is strongly influenced by her culture. Every society has its own traditional beliefs and practices related to pregnancy and health care. Postpartum maternal health care greatly influences the health of both the mother and child. Like prenatal care, the postpartum health care that is typically provided during the six-week period after childbirth is very important to the mothers’ health. Effective postpartum care is essential to maximize the health of the mother and the new-born regardless of where a woman delivers. India, being a land of diverse cultures and traditions, postpartum care and diet varies, based on topography of the region, culture, tradition and religious practices.

Here I will outline some of the manglorean catholic practices. It is a common belief that the new mother’s internal organs are ‘fresh’ from childbirth and so it is important to consume foods that will provide heat and warmth to the body to accelerate the healing of the internal organs especially the reproductive organs. Nonetheless, it is imperative to have a balanced diet which includes, but not limted to, pure ghee, fenugreek seeds, fenugreek leaves, fennel seeds (saunf), garlic, ginger, carom seeds (ajwain) oats, green vegetables, dried fruits, seeds, etc. The mother must have a bowl of hot soup daily, either vegetable soup or tender fresh chicken soup. She should eat fish like, Pomfret, lady fish Kaane (Lady Fish) Curry, Raouns (Rawas/Indian Salmon), Hamour (Grouper) and avoid Mackerels, Sardines, King fish, shrimps, shell fish, etc. She must also avoid having pulses, starchy and root vegetables and meats like beef, to avoid bloating, indigestion and flatulence as this could adversely affect the nursing baby. Lots of green leafy vegetables and Yam is recommended in addition to carrots and beetroot as they are high in beta carotene and help boost liver health and are a good source of iron to alleviate post-pregnancy anemia.

Recipes for some of the typical medicinal foods namely, Methi Paez (Fenugreek seed porridge), Garlic & Ginger which are ground to a paste and cooked with jaggery and pure ghee to a jam consistency, Ajwain Paez (Carom seed porridge), Gulianchi Kheer (Rice, jaggery and coconut milk pudding with rice dumplings) and Nivol (medium thick curry made using coconut, peppercorns, carom seeds and kokum i.e.dried mangosteen/red mango) to be consumed by lactating mothers is given below. These are my Late mother’s recipes from her book Mai’s Recipes. Mai’s Recipes Contact details.

I remember my mother saying that it is advisable to give the new mother methi paez and nivol on alternate days. Then a tablespoon of the ginger or garlic can be taken daily with breakfast or in between. Ajwain paez can be taken on some days and gulianchi kheer on some days i.e. all these foods are not to be taken everyday but spread over the confinement period so as to gain the maximum benefit from these nourishing ingredients.

Fenugreek Ajwain water should be taken by the mother instead of normal water.  This can be prepared by adding a teaspoon each of Fenugreek, Ajwain (Caron seeds), Cumin and Fennel (Badishep) seeds to one litre or 1.5 litres of water, bring to a boil, switch off flame, cover and let it infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve, to be taken by the mother, preferably warm, throughout the day instead of normal water.

The other important lactating and strengthening food is ‘Randho’ which is a mixture of spices and various nuts and ‘Thiklem‘ a dry form of Randho which is also a mixture of spices and various nuts, onions etc. deep fried to golden brown with pure ghee. It is recommended to take a tablespoon at breakfast.

Click on the title for links to the recipe.

Thiklem (Sukho Randho)
141 Nivol[0]

The postpartum practices are many, but I will list those that are important to both the baby’s and mother’s health for the first 40 days i.e. 6 weeks of confinement and commonly practiced by us:-
For Mother:-

  1. The daily oil massage and bath, ideally given by ‘Elderly lady who looks after the new mother’ (balnti posteli) experienced in bath and massage for new born baby and mother.
  2. Postpartum belt (usually an old cotton saree/cloth is used) tied over the tummy and waist of the mother to support the back and get rid of the baby pouch. As they say it also helps squeeze out the impure blood and other impurities from the uterus which are the remanants from the delivery.
  3. Restricted from using cold water for washing hands, taking bath, toilet use and drinking purpose. Only warm or hot water is recommended.
  4. Mother is advised to lie down most of the time and preferably with legs crossed to avoid air entering the body.
  5. Drinking kaljira kasai (black cumin decoction) for first three days after delivery.
  6. Consume special food (home medicine) to increase breast milk and strengthen the bones and muscles during postnatal period.
  7. Refrain from sex for 40 days mainly from a medical perspective as it would allow for the episiotomy wound to be healed and avoid any infections.
  8. It is also said that usually one peg of alcohol (brandy) may be given to mother to prevent her from catching cold and also helps her get good sleep.

In conclusion: Generally, women and their newborn are secluded from the rest of the household to limit contamination from the polluting powers of ‘after-birth’. These are widely practiced across India, and form an intrinsic part of women’s daily lives in traditional societies.

For Baby:-

  1. Daily Oil massage and bath.
  2. Practice of exposing the baby to the dhoonp (incense) smoke after bath to protect the baby from evil spirit.
  3. Application of Kajal on the baby’s forehead or eyes to ward of evil eye. A small dot may be applied near the hairline if you are not too happy with using kajal.
  4. Use of black thread on wrists/waist/neck to prevent evil eye.
  5. To clean coated tongue by using a cloth/gauze dipped in glycerine.
  6. Advised not to cut baby’s nails with nail-cutter but rather the mother should bite the nails to make them shorter or keep baby’s hands covered in mittens to avoid them scratching themselves.
  7. Practice of feeding the first milk (colostrum).
  8. Utmost care to umbilical cord, to be kept dry using boric powder or clean with antiseptic swabs and to bury the umbilical cord when it dries and falls.
  9. Baby is given sun-bath, usually early morning between 7:30 am and 8:30 am to prevent and cure baby jaundice if detected. During such sun-bath, baby’s eyes are to be protected from direct contact to sun.

Although modern medicine does not necessarily advocate these customs and beliefs, they have been followed by generations and we have not seen or heard of any adverse effects because of these practices but certainly know that they do have their own benefits.

The new mother then should just allow herself to be thoroughly pampered with ample rest, massages, nutritious food etc. that she is showered upon during this period.

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