The Hindu 31st Ceremony: A Celebration of Birth

The birth of a new baby is a sacred time for families. In Hindu culture, it is customary for the mother and baby to remain at home for 31 days. During this period, the mother is catered to so that she has the opportunity to rest and heal. She’s given special curries containing healing spices to help with recovery. Her only duties consist of feeding and bonding with the new baby. On the 31st day of the baby’s life, a religious ceremony takes place to celebrate and bless the new life. If the mother is still experiencing post-partum bleeding, the celebration is rescheduled for the 41st day.

On the 31st day, the entire household is thoroughly cleaned, and everyone showers and dresses in new clothes. A black dot called a pottu, usually made by the grandmother, is placed on the child’s forehead to combat evil eye. An iyaar (Hindu priest) is invited to conduct the rituals and prayers.The home is sprinkled with turmeric water and a garland of mango leaves is hung over the home’s entrance to ward off evil.

The baby is officially named as his/her name is recited three times into the ear. The maternal uncle, parents, and close family members adorn the baby in gold jewelry to bless the child with prosperity and also because pure gold is beneficial for the nervous system and increases intellect and memory.

Prayers are said, offerings made to God, and the baby is placed into his/her crib by the maternal uncle. Once the ceremony is complete, a traditional vegetarian feast and sweets are served signalling the end of the celebration. On the 41st day, the baby’s head is typically shaven as a sign of removing negativity from the past life, and the baby is taken to the temple for his/her first excursion outside the home.

Although this is tradition, a lot of us living in different parts of the world aren’t able to follow it exactly. For example, we have a lot less support here due and as a result most of us are not able to rest for 31 days. Also many of us chose to for-go the head shaving practice especially when babies are born during the colder months.

Do you celebrate a new baby in your culture? If so, I’d love to know.

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