Shruti’s Godh Bharna is a hindu ceremony for baby showering. In Hindu mythology ‘godh’ means the lap of the woman and ‘bharna’ means to fill.
Godh bharna ceremony is a very significant event in the lives of Hindu married women. This function that is held for and by women is celebrated with great festivity. It is a ceremony that celebrates the first pregnancy of the bride of the house and is held in the seventh month of pregnancy. Therefore, the mother and mother-in-law of the prospective mother fill her godh, represented by the palav of her sari with items symbolizing a good omen like a coconut marked with a red swastika, moong, supari (betel nut) and silver coins. (According to Indian tradition, one and a quarter is considered to be a good omen).
The women who participate in the ceremony from the side of the mother of the expectant mother will bring five colourfully decorated metal thalis (round silver like plates). Of these five thalis, three thalis will contain assorted Indian sweets. The fourth thali will contain a range of garments and jewellery. The fifth thali will be filled with a coconut marked with a red swastika, moong, a cloth piece (red, green or yellow) and a few silver coins of one various denominations.
On this day, the prospective mother is dressed in almost bridal finery. It is important that her mother present all the garments that she wears at the ceremony. The ceremony is strictly for women only. Consequently, there are only women invitees except the photographer! All the women will be dressed in traditional finery and will sing traditional songs appropriate for the occasion.
The ceremony begins with the mother-to-be’s entrance, dressed in traditional finery, through the front door of her in-law’s house. The participating ladies sing traditional songs further enhancing the festive atmosphere.
For each step the expectant mother takes as she enters the house, a piece of coloured silk is placed under her feet along with a little supari, a one rupee coin and a quarter rupee coin. These actions are continued till she reaches the place where the puja (worship) will be performed. An idol of Lord Ganesh or any other Hindu God is placed at this place of worship. Traditionally, the puja area is situated in the main hall of the house and always faces east. All the items placed under the expectant mother’s feet during her walk from the front door to the puja area, i.e. the silk cloth, the supari and the coins, have to be handed over either to her sister or to her husband’s sister in keeping with the dictates of tradition.
Besides the idol of Lord Ganesh, the puja area also has a baajotth, a low four-legged wooden seat, traditionally used for such religious occasions. The mother-to-be is made to sit on the baajotth and a small red dot is put on her forehead for good luck. After this, both her mother and her mother-in-law fill her godh (the paalav of her saree) with gifts and jewellery. Her sister-in-law then offers her a cup of sweetened saffron milk before tying a yellow thread around the wrist of the right hand of the expectant mother. This wristband, known as a nada chhadi, is very significant as it is supposed to protect both the expectant mother and the unborn child from evil spirits. The elders bless the expectant mother and her unborn child accompanied by the sound of traditional festive tunes being sung by the women in the background.