What is the Godh Bharai or Baby Shower

Godh Bharai is an Indian ceremony that marks the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy. It goes by different names across the different states in India but the intent is the same – to celebrate the prospect of the newest addition to the family with your nearest and dearest. The ceremony is done at this late stage in the pregnancy as it is generally considered safe and viable. Godh Bharai is called Seemantham or Seemandham in south india and Shaad in Bengal.

The phrase Godh Bharai literally means “fill the lap” and this celebration is marked by showering the mother-to-be with gifts along with the blessings and good wishes of elders in the family. While men can be present, this ceremony is mostly intended for women.

How is Godh Bharai celebrated?

Given India’s cultural diversity, it should come as no surprise that each state celebrates this occasion somewhat differently.

In North India, the Godh Bharai is a music-filled event where the mother-to-be is surrounded by plate-fulls of sweets. The mother is then escorted to the puja room where she is seated on a ‘baajoth’ amidst singing and dancing while the family elders shower her with blessings.

In Kerala, this ceremony is called ‘Puli Oonu’ where the mother-to-be is decked in finery with jewelry and a traditional silk sari. An entire feast of sweets and savories are laid out before her as a way of celebrating her new role and welcoming her into the fold of motherhood. The classical tamarind rice which is a literal translation of Puli Oonu is just one of the dishes in the feast served to the gathering at the conclusion of the ceremony.