The birth of a son is a great occasion in the villages. People light lamps
and the women from the neighbourhood come and sing songs of joy and congratulations.
The mother is treated with great reverence. The baby is delivered by old
and experienced midwives who are paid both in cash and in kind. In the
Kinnaur area the palanquins of the gods are brought within their houses
after a male child is delivered and a feast of rich food and liquor
is given to the villagers. This custom is known as Shukud. At this time
a goat may also be sacrificed. Among the Brahmins the Namkaran (the naming
of the infant), Chudakaran (first snipping off of his locks) and Annaprashan
(the first tasting of cereals by the baby) are all performed with great
joy. In some areas in Solan, the infant is taken to a waterfall and lodged
near it for the first three days. Getting a horoscope written for the
baby is also a must. Marriages cannot be settled before the horoscopes
of the couple have been matched properly.
At the time of child birth the mother is housed in a
separate room. In the tribal areas she is lodged in a cattle-manor (Khudd).
After delivery, the infant is bathed and wrapped in a clean cloth. The
first twenty days are called Sootak and during this period the family
observes abstention from all religious rituals. If touched by mistake,
the idol is said to become polluted and an animal sacrifice becomes necessary
to placate the god. Some other important ceremonies connected with child
birth are the first sighting of the baby by the father and the first
feeding of the tonic Ghutti to the infant. It is believed that the child
imbibes the temperament of the person who gives him his first dose of
Ghutti. Therefore the Ghutti is administered by some exceptionally good-natured
member of the family.
After the twenty day Sootak period is over, the 'cleansing
up' ceremony takes place. This occasion is celebrated with great fun.
They call the ceremony Goontar and on this occasion special Sunds (sweet
cookies) are made and distributed among the close relatives.
In the tribal areas, when a family is blessed with a
son goats are sacrificed to the deities and the other fathers of boys
in the village joyfully clobber the new father with chunks of meat. Money
is also offered to the temples. The birth of a daughter is considered
the beginning of heavy responsibilities and so only few celebrate it as
joyous occasion. In some areas the girls from the village chase the girl's
father round and round and he pretends to run away.
After the baby's birth and the casting of the horoscopes
people make special efforts to propitiate the evil stars in the child's
horoscope. For this, special Pujas are offered and alms are distributed.
People hang little silver or copper Jantar (amulets) around the child's
neck to ward off the bad effect of evil stars. Children born in the Gandmool
hour are considered unlucky and are often gifted away ritually as soon
as they are born.
When the child is seven months old he is given the first
taste of cereal in the form of kheer (rice pudding). This ceremony is
known as Kheerpoo. The child is fed kheer with a silver article
shaped like the blade of grass. Female children are also fed kheer and
special songs are sung. At this time a basket full of various things of
daily use are also placed before the child. It is believed that the child
shall pick up an article which fore-tells his future occupation.