Saturday, December 3, 2022
Himachal Pradesh

Himachal People

Customs and Traditions

Child Birth

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.