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Passing on cultural traditions

Indian baby shower emphasizes the significance of motherhood and the mother and child bond, says BYUH student

An Indian couple wearing traditional Indian clothes with a guy wearing a white polo.
The Indian baby shower, referred to as Valaikaappu, holds immense importance in Indian culture as it celebrates the arrival of new life, says Priyanka Gubbala, the mother to be.

The Indian baby shower, referred to as Valaikaappu, holds immense importance in Indian culture as it celebrates the arrival of new life, honors the mother to be, strengthens bonds among family and friends and passes on cultural traditions and values, said Priyanka Gubbala, the mother to be.

As an expectant mother, Gubbala said for her own baby shower, she was dressed in traditional Indian attire and adorned with jewelry and henna designs. After that she smothered in turmeric and sandalwood paste on her cheeks, arms and feet and then put on glass bangles. Friends at the baby shower then adorned her wrists with more bangles and garland, showered her with flowers, colored rice and fed her Laddoo, a sweet Indian food, in representation of blessings to her and her baby.

Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala, a freshman majoring in information technology and the father to be, said, “This Indian baby shower is an important cultural tradition that emphasizes the significance of motherhood and the bond between the mother and the child. It also serves as a way of bringing family and friends together to celebrate the new life and offer support and love to Priyanka.”

In addition Ananya Pilli, a community member and a friend to the Gubbalas, explained the purpose of the event is to respect and protect the mother, who is thought to be vulnerable to the evil eye, evil spirits and ghosts, and to ensure the birth of a healthy child.

She said though they are not living in India, she felt grateful to keep these traditions alive here in Hawaii.

Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala said, “My family are all back in India, but I am grateful for a family of friends I have created here who came to support me, my wife and my baby.”

According to Bharatpedia website, Valaikaappu is a bangle ceremony and a prenatal ritual or celebration done by South Indian women in Tamil Nadu and Telangana during the last month of pregnancy. It is to bless a pregnant woman, honor her fertility and prepare the baby and mother-to-be for a healthy birth, says Bharatpedia. The sounds of the bangles on the mothers arms are said to be carried to the womb and benefit the developing infant, said Pilli.

The word “Valaikaappu'” is derived from the language Tamil, which is spoken in the southern part of India. The ritual Valaikappu can be broken down into two - “Valai” means “bangles” and “kappu” means “security,” reports the website 99pandit.

Pilli similarly said, “Valaikaappu is an essential part of Indian culture that celebrates the arrival of a new life. … This ceremony includes blessings and prayers for the health and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.”

A group photo with a baby shower backdrop.
Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala says he is grateful for his friends who support him, his wife and baby.

The event was full of colors and decorations with women and men who came to be part of this ritual to celebrate the coming of the couple’s baby boy.

Priyanka Gubbala, said, “This ritual is a way of passing on cultural traditions and values from generation to generation. It allows the older generation to share their experiences and wisdom with the younger generation and helps to keep the culture alive and thriving.”