Old Wives’ Tales in India
By: Shyamli Thakur
Pregnancy is a blissful journey that is not only enjoyed by the to-be-parents but the entire family.
This is the reason why you are sure to get an overdose of do’s s and don’ts from everyone
While this joyous experience is made more convenient by medical advancements, there are endless old-wives’ tales related to pregnancy worldwide.
From predicting baby’s sex to not eating papaya and not sitting in the doorway, India is home to a long list of superstitions.
People mindlessly believe in these myths so no misfortune befalls during pregnancy.
After all nobody is foolish enough to tempt fate, isn’t it? Here I’ve master-crafted some widespread pregnancy superstitions in the land of snake-charmers.
Shape of the belly
Majority of Indians look forward to the birth of a beautiful baby boy who will be an heir to their family and continue the lineage.
For this sole reason, there are numerous centuries-old myths that natives abide by to be blessed with a son.
One widespread gender-predicting legend states that belly of a pregnant lady determines the sex of the unborn child.
While having a low belly signifies a boy, the higher belly position is a sign of a lovely little girl.
Likewise, many believe that having a small belly is a harbinger of a baby boy whereas a big belly signs the arrival of a little girl.
Pleasing the deity
Another established belief about India’s obsession with the birth of a baby boy is the male-making ritual called ‘Punsavana’.
This tradition is customary at the end of the trimester to please the deity responsible for if the baby is a boy or girl.
Natives have an unshakable belief that after completion of this ceremony, the deity will bless them with a male child.
A huge sigh of relief for the parents! After all, Indians believe that only a son can light the funeral pyre of the parents.
Hygiene gone south!
While hygiene of the mother ought to top the priority list, in India, this healthful practice just doesn’t find a spot! Imagine your beautiful tresses left unwashed for a week or a couple!
In some parts of India expected mothers are not allowed to wash their hair till the delivery!
Why, you may wonder? They dread that something unfortunate may happen to the pregnant lady.
The belief came into being as people feared that the expected mother would catch a cold or fall in the bathroom while taking a head bath.
While it is slowly getting eradicated from many areas, people still follow it in some remote areas.
Birth of an owl
While insomnia has been troubling individuals for centuries, many believe that this is a modern-day problem.
According to one of the Indian old-wives’ tales, if the baby is born at night, then he’ll stay awake at night like an owl and have trouble sleeping.
The native started the myth of a baby being an owl in his previous life to justify the hardships faced by the child trying to sleep.
This superstition is widespread because owl is already considered an inauspicious bird which is the harbinger of death and bad omen.
Who is the fairest of all?
In India milky white complexion is preferred over wheat-ish and dusky skin, even if you have acne and scars!
Fair complexion has been considered superior by Indians since the dawn of time. Hence, it is completely understandable that to-be-parents want to have a baby with snow-white’s complexion.
And in order to pre-decide what color the baby is, a much-believed myth states not eating food that’s black or dark-colored.
The expected mother is also advised to have high consumption of saffron to have a baby with the fairest complexion.
This expensive and exotic spice is believed to have a magical power to bless the newborn with the fairest complexion.
Protective sound of the bangles
There are numerous legends to guard the expected mother and the unborn baby from any sort of evil eye. India, being a nation flooded with rituals and superstitions, has plenty of myths associated with pregnancy and the evil eye.
One popular Indian sacrament known as ‘simmanantannaya’ is carried out from the seventh month of gestation.
In this ceremony, to-be-mother is asked to wear either red or green glass bangles to keep any inopportune happening at bay.
Natives believe that the pleasing sound of the bangles provide protection and utmost comfort to the unborn baby in the womb.
The secret to super-brainy baby
To bless a baby with exceptional brilliance, to-be-parents always try their luck in abiding the superstitions.
A fair misconception found in many Indian homes is the tradition of uplifting unborn baby’s brain.
‘Seemantham’ is a popular custom organized during the fifth, seventh, and ninth month of the strenuous journey.
The expected mother listens to religious hymns to calm her mind and send positivity to the unborn baby.
According to the natives, hearing soothing and pious sounds makes the child sharp and intellect.
Stay away from spices
Among the more firmly entrenched superstitions of pregnancy is the myth that warns the expected mother against ingestion of spicy foods.
The legend suggests that high consumption of flavorful and aromatic spices can burn the unborn child’s eyes.
And in the worst case scenario it can even result in blindness. Therefore, in many parts of India expected women are not served spicy dishes.
Another well-established old-wives’ tale states that eating spicy food during pregnancy can even lead to miscarriages and the induction of labor.
What’s more you may wonder? The answer: it is widely believed that frequent heartburn after eating spicy food results in the birth of a baby with a head full of hair.
These strange pregnancy customs and superstitions have been followed by the natives for as long as they can remember.
While many don’t have a logical explanation, they are still deeply rooted in the Indian society and followed blindly.
By: Shyamli Thakur – Also By Shyamli Thakur: Superstitions in India