Know the difference between Seemantham and valaikaapu?
Event Fashion: “Baby Shower is a western culture and feels very foreign, an alien tradition. When in fact, they have existed in multiple cultures in various forms throughout the ages. Even in India, there have been many iterations that are very similar in spirit to baby showers. They are called as Godbharaai in the North. And In the west, they are Dohaljewaan, in West Bengal and Odisha they are Saadhroshi. When we focus our attention to the states of the south, we have Seemantham and Valaikaapu in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Kubasa in Karnataka, Baayake in Tulu-speaking regions, and Pulikudi in Kerala.”
The Baby Showers of the west are largely informal affairs akin to a social gathering of well-wishers. It’s South Indian equivalent seemed to be walking a tightrope between being something similar to the West to be a formal ceremony with a dash of religious piety. Seemantham has traditionally been the latter and is still practised and observed to this day. Valaikappu and its other equivalents are the former. Let us look at the core components that make up the Baby Shower, both its western incarnation and our own.
The West :
Traditionally, Baby Showers in the west were directed towards the first child and is usually themed according to the gender of the baby. Since it primarily is a social gathering, family members and intimate friends are the participants. Every attendee brings with them a gift that they feel is relevant to the soon-to-be-born or their mother. This is where the term originates, as guests shower the baby with presents. It also serves as a gathering for the people most likely to play a part in the upbringing and extended future of the baby. Usually, celebrations are at the home of the baby’s mother on account of her convenience.
The South Indian Baby Shower:
The Seemantham is a ceremonious part of our own Baby Shower variant. It involves seeking the blessings of the Hindu Deities for a relatively safe delivery on the day of the birth. There are specific mantras and chants mentioned in the Vedic scriptures on this subject and scenario. The priests of the temple who are to oversee the ceremony adhere to these scriptures. A midwife is a person who assists a mother during birth. Both tradition and scripture have ascribed her a very important role.
The Valaikaapu, the informal part of our own Baby Shower variant, is basically the western social gathering. The hosting is for the sole purpose of honouring the baby’s mother. It also is for familiarizing the attendees to a new reality where another life will soon be amongst them. The Valaikaapu is happening everywhere and is irrespective of religion. It is generally considered as a bastion of positivity for the family and the community that are associated with them. Gifts brought along for the event include attire, appliances and much more. The hosts even throw a feast for the attendees to celebrate their presence and constitution.
Also see : Traditional Hindu Wedding
“Thus, the Baby Shower has survived into the modern-day. Now, Baby Showers are a fusion of both the west and our own culture (Seemantham and Valaikaapu), and it is all the more richer for it.”