What is Valaikappu or Seemantham Ceremony?
Meaning of Seemantham
Valaikappu seemantham is a traditional pre-birth celebratory ceremony usually performed in Southern parts of India. It heralds the birth of a newborn in a household and is marked by the presentation of red and green glass bangles to the pregnant woman which she wears on her wrists throughout the duration of her pregnancy. Seemantham literally means the parting of the hair and signifies the part of the body where Lakhshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity is supposed to reside. The pregnant woman therefore applies vermillion or kumkum (red powder) on her head to propitiate the goddess and ensure that the newborn child is born with all her qualities.
Cultural Beliefs Surround Seemantham
The pregnant woman is considered to be a powerful but vulnerable being. The theory says that she is susceptible to bad spirits and the glare of the evil eye. Valaikappu is a religious and cultural ceremony performed to protect the mother and the child and ensure a safe birthing. The ceremony is generally performed in the later stages of the pregnancy, often in the seventh or ninth month. The religious and rhythmic chanting is supposed to prepare the baby and the mother for the struggles to come. The woman is also bathed in cold water which prepares the baby for the birthing process.
Scientific Reasons Behind the Custom
There is a probable scientific reason behind performing of the valaikappu ceremony. The baby’s brain cells start developing during the seventh month of the pregnancy. The tradition of gifting bangles to pregnant women during baby showers is beneficial to the fetus as it craves acoustic stimuli and it helps in its cognitive development as well. The rhythmic chanting of mantras during the ceremony helps in reducing the pregnant mother’s stress and helps develop the fetus’ hearing ability. According to gynecologists stress during pregnancy may result in the baby being born pre-term or being underweight.
Importance of Performing Valaikappu Ceremony
Purification of Mother and Unborn Baby’s Soul
The Valaikappu ceremony is a soul purifying process for the mother and the fetus. The whole family gathers to bless the pregnant woman and the unborn child. There is celebration, chanting of holy verses, music and wholesome food. The happiness affects the fetus in a positive way and helps the mother be calm during the pregnancy.
Receiving Blessings of the Family Elders
In India no celebration is complete without the blessings of the elders of the family. During the Valaikappu ceremony the expecting mother gets to receive the blessings of the elders and absorb their wisdom. Important tips are given which helps them cope with pressure and pain of childbirth. The soothing music and chants helps keep the expectant woman happy and free of depression. This helps bring a healthy and happy baby into the world.
Pregnant Woman is Pampered
The main point of the Valaikappu ceremony is to pamper the expectant mother and keep her happy. To serve this purpose the whole day is dedicated to her. She is showered with gifts and her favorite delicacies are served. All the women of the family gather to celebrate the wonderful occasion and pass on their wisdom to the young mother. It’s similar to a western baby shower in its purpose, though the execution is a bit different. The blessings that the new mother receives adds to her pregnancy glow and makes her feel special and important.
5 Traditional Return Gifts Ideas for Valaikappu
The Valaikappu ceremony is an important function attended by friends and the entire family. It’s a celebration of fertility and new life. Even in the baby showers of the west there is the tradition of giving the guests a little something to commemorate the occasion. Return gifts for the guests of the Valaikappu ceremony should be small but meaningful with a touch of tradition to it.
Peacock Haldi Kumkum Box
A little box for holding vermillion or kumkum is the perfect return gift for valaikappu. These boxes can also be used to keep little trinkets and jewelry like small earrings. Bombay Haat Peacock Kumkum Box is a brilliantly colored piece of artistry handcrafted by artisans of Rajasthan and features a beautiful meenakari peacock design. It can used as a showpiece or used for keeping puja essentials like turmeric, rice, or vermillion. Buy it for Rs.350 from amazon.in.
Bandharwal or Toran
A bandarwal is a traditional door hanging believed to attract Lakhshmi into the household. It’s an important part of traditional Hindu ceremony decorations. Crafticia Bandarwal Shree Namah is a royal looking piece made by artisans of Rajasthan. It’s made of metal with traditional colored inlay work and will definitely make a great return gift for the valaikappu ceremony. Buy it for Rs.469 from amazon.in.
Candle Stand Tree
Pleasing your valaikappu guests won’t be difficult with the beautiful tree shaped candle stand from DreamKraft. The Palm Tree Double Candle Stand can be used as home décor or for puja. It’s made of oxidized white metal and will add a beautiful touch to any home. Buy it for Rs.439 from amazon.in.
Buy the Skywalk Leaf Shaped Metal Tray from amazon.in to gift your valaikappu guests. It’s made of gold colored metal and can be used for various purposes. It can make a great centerpiece or be used for carrying puja supplies. Buy it for Rs.499 from amazon.in
Brass Fruit Bowl
A puja ceremony requires a variety of fruits as offerings to the god or goddess. This beautiful brass fruit bowl from Nutristar will add grandeur to the celebrations and also look great in the middle of the dining table. Buy it for Rs.349 from amazon.in
Modern Valaikappu Return Gifts
To the younger generation valaikappu seemanthan is an eastern equivalent of a baby shower. They enjoy following the traditions but also like to put a fun spin on age old traditions. We have curated a list of some fun and modern valaikappu return gifts that the younger generation will appreciate greatly.
Apple Shaped Fruit Box
Give your guests a beautiful Apple Shaped Box from theoneshop.in. This box is made of wood with traditional meenakari work. It can be used to keep dry fruits and condiments. It’s traditional with a modern twist as its design is inspired from the logo of the iconic Apple brand, the maker of iPhone, iPad and the Mac computers. Buy it for Rs.425.
A pretty clutch can complement both ethnic and western ensembles. The ladies at your valaikappu ceremony will surely appreciate a return gift as beautiful as the Banjara Clutch. It’s vibrantly colored with intricate hand embroidery. You can buy it from theoneshop.in for Rs.245.
Benarasi Blouse Piece
Sarees are the quintessential traditional Indian wear. But what complements a saree is a beautiful blouse. Give your guests Benarasi blouse pieces from theoneshop.in. These gorgeous 80 cm long fabric pieces are available in various bright hues at Rs.85 per piece. They would make great return gifts for all the beautiful ladies who attend your Valaikappu ceremony.
Candles are always great return gifts and this beautiful square white candle will henna design on it seems just appropriate as a modern valaikappu gift. We are certain that your guests will be extremely satisfied with a return gift as beautiful as these. Buy it for your guests Rs.200 a piece from indiamart.com
Bangles are an important part of the valaikappu ceremony. So gifting bangles to your guest would be a wonderful way to commemorate this day. Bangles not only are apt for the occasion but help complete any Indian ensemble. You can gift your guests glass bangles as per tradition. Buy New Make In India Colorful Glass Bangle set from amazon.in for Rs.629. If you want to deviate a little from tradition then get the Nakhs Stylish Silk Thread Gota Work Bangle Set for Rs.240. These are beautiful brightly colored pieces which can be worn with both Indian and western outfits. These are lightweight and practically unbreakable. You will find these on amazon.in
Auspicious Return Gift: Small Idol of Lord Ganesha
If it’s an auspicious gift that you are looking for then look no further than the little Ganesha statue from Amazing India. This beautiful figurine is made of lightweight resin and will make the perfect gift for any religious ceremony.This 5.6 inch figurine has been handmade by Indian artisans and is truly a piece of art. It will enlighten the corner of your home with its beauty and auspiciousness. Buy it for Rs.249 from amazon.in
Traditional vs Modern
Every culture has its own way of pampering mothers-to-be, and though the rituals may vary the purpose is the same - to prepare a woman for motherhood, give her gifts and good wishes, and honour the role of a mother. Whether you opt for a traditional seemantham ceremony, godh bharai rituals or a modern baby shower, buy return gifts that are in keeping with the mood of the ceremony and the type of guests you have coming for it.