Valaikaapu, a Beautiful Ceremony for the Mother-to-Be
A Social Celebration for the Expectant Mother
Valaikappu is a 7th-month celebration for an expectant mother and father with love and blessings. Known differently in different parts of the country like God Bharai in North India, Valaikappu in Tamil Nadu and Seemandham among the South Indian Hindu community, the names may be different, but the essence behind the celebrations remains constant, that being to wish well for the pregnant mom and pray for both her and her child.
Valaikappu is usually hosted by the pregnant mom’s Mother on a pre-scheduled auspicious day and actually implies bangles and bracelets. The celebration requires the mom-to-be to dress up in all her finery, and the women guests invited for the ceremony make her wear bangles for her protection, some of which continue to stay on her wrists till she goes into labour. Amid folk songs and hymns, the women folk put vermilion or turmeric-kumkum on the mother-to-be to ward off all negativity and psychic energies, singing songs for both mother and baby with celebrations extending with a scrumptious feast and playful banter
The Science Behind Gifting Bangles for Valaikappu
Traditionally bangles denote a mark of respect and prosperity in a married women’s life and add to her individuality after she gets into a matrimonial union with her husband. Aside from that, scientifically also bangles serve an important purpose in a Mother-to-be’s health situation. Wrists are an active part of the human anatomy and the pulse or heartbeats are usually checked for on the wrists. When a pregnant woman wears bangles, it causes constant friction on that part of her arm, by which there’s enhanced blood circulation and the womb muscles function uniformly.
A baby’s memory cells start working after the 7th month, which implies that the child can receive the sounds and vibrations from his/her surroundings and record them. This also helps sharpen the baby’s mind. Music and pleasant sounds have very therapeutic benefits for both mother and child reducing all stress. The ceremonies during Valaikappu exposes the mother-to-be to blessings uttered by elders, the sound of glass bangles, mantra chants bringing a sense of peace and calm and purifying the atmosphere, which in turn affects the baby in the womb positively. When presented with bangles during the ceremony, the tinkle of the bangles can provide that acoustic stimulus to the baby.
A Mix of 10 New and Old Valaikappu Return Gifts
Silver BalGopal Idol
The idol of Bal Gopal or Ladoo Gopal as he’s affectionately called is a much-preferred option for a return gift during the baby shower or Valaikappu occasions. Water resistant and measuring 1.3 cm x 6.5 cm x 6.5 cm, the idol weighs 299 gms. This beautiful idol can be placed in the home temple or used as a home décor figurine. If placed in the northeast direction of the living area or puja room, it attracts health, wealth, peace and happiness among the family members who reside there. The idol is made in silver colour in polyresin material and adorned with colourful stones. It is priced at Rs.599 on Flipkart.
Ethnic Embroidered Handbag
Measuring 24 cms x 7.5 cms x 16 cms (length x base x height), this beautifully embroidered handbag is an ideal return favour which can be gifted as is or filled with an assortment of goodies like chocolates, cosmetic items or fashion accessories for women. It has a gorgeous mix of handcrafted embroidery with sequins, zari work and thread work in different colours on a pink base with beads adorned on the handles. The bag weighs about 100 gms and is available in assorted colours and designs on theoneshop.in. It is priced at Rs.99.
Kalamkari Bangle Box
Available in a variety of Kalamkari designs, this bangle box from Wed Tree is a unique addition to the vanity bag of any woman who likes to keep her jewellery in place and organized. Measuring 3” in diameter and 1.5” in height this box is made of different coloured fabrics and Kalamkari prints with a zipped lid. It also has a fabric lining on the inside, making it a quirky addition to return favours. It weighs 76g ms and you can choose to gift a bangle set should you wish to make it a complete set. The box is priced at Rs. 79 for each.
For an additional price of Rs.899, you can purchase NMII Fashioable & Glossy Multicolor Silk Thread Glass Bangle Set, a pack of 96 multi-coloured silk thread glass bangles in 12 different colours in sets of 8 and combine them with the bangle box. These are available on Amazon.
Golden Ganesh Decor Gift
Made from premium quality polyresin, this Tied Ribbons musical Ganesha idol is handcrafted and hand painted. Measuring 22 cm x 35 cm 14 cm it comes packaged in a 5ply box. Lord Ganesha is known as the god for all new beginnings and is known to ward off all obstacles in the path of success. He’s the harbinger of happiness and this beautiful artefact represents his most charming and endearing qualities beautifully. The figurine is adorned with a lovely hue of golden paint, and the addition of elements like a flute, crown, jewellery and clothing, with a black base made of wood, including a tea light candle and some pebble stones. This décor gift is priced at Rs.599 on Amazon.
Baby Shower Return Gift Pack
This Valaikappu return favour is a traditional base gift pack of a gift pouch, a deity idol, a kumkum holder, some yellow rope, bangles, kumkum and turmeric powder and a flower strand. You can also choose to custom print the pack with a customized bag. It is priced at Rs. 412.50 for a minimum quantity of 5 packs. For an additional charge, you can include more item to the pack like – bindi stickers, incense stand, additional bangles, cotton fabric, a decorative thali, mehendi cone and or diya. Order it from thugil.com.
Marble Kumkum Box and Puja Thali Set
Made of marble and available in multi-coloured options, this beautiful Riddhi Siddhi Crafts & Creations Marble Kumkum Box is handcrafted with gorgeous meenakari hand design and is an elegant choice for a return favour. Packaged with 1 kumkum box, at Rs. 299, the box measures 6 x 6 x 2.5 cm and is available in a variety of designs and colours at Amazon.
You can combine it with a marble puja thali with meenakari work, like this Jaipuri Craft Meenakari Work Marble Pooja & Thali Set Marble for an additional price of Rs.459. The plate is 15 cms in diameter and has a beautiful handcrafted design of Lord Ganesha in a fusion of red-green-blue and white colours. Buy it from Flipkart.
Baby Shower Soap Gift
Shower your guests with these adorable soap gifts with this Baby Shower Gift Set 1, an assorted design combination of teddy bears, milk bottles, pacifier, prams, or baby feet available on soapsquare.in. The gift pack comes with 1 big baby shower soap, 2 mini soaps and a handmade bamboo box. The soaps are made of shea butter, coconut oil, glycerin, essential oils and mineral water. The gift set is priced at Rs. 320 for each set. You can also opt for a higher gift pack that includes 2 big baby shower soaps, 2 mini soaps, lip scrub and the handmade bamboo box for Rs. 700.
Chrome Plated Silver Bowl
Measuring 13 x 13 x 5.5 cms (L x W x H) and weighing approximately 280 gms, this intricately designed round bowl is an elegant choice for a baby shower occasion. With its magnificent craftsmanship and chrome plated design, this silver serving set with a bowl and spoon is apt for serving sweets, dry fruits or snack items royally. Packaged in red velvet, the gift box has a metal hook or Velcro for its closing mechanism and for a minimum quantity of 10 pieces, this serving set is priced at Rs. 225 for each piece on theoneshop.in.
Baby Buddha Backflow Incense Holder
With calm and serene facial expressions, this cute baby Buddha atop a tranquil smoke waterfall is a visual treat for anyone’s home décor to ease all stress and bring peace to the surroundings. Made of a polyresin material, the Buddha Monk Smoke Backflow incense holder is made to create a mystic smoky ambience with fragrant incense cones, such as they create a mesmerizing illusion emitting a waterfall of holy smoke. Measuring 3 x 2.5 x 5, the backflow incense holder with baby Buddha is priced at Rs.510 at boontoon.com and the minimum order quantity is 10 pieces.
Watch Me Grow Plant Gift
What’s the best way of celebrating a baby’s arrival in life, if not watching a tiny plant growing in front of you. Share your happiness by gifting your guests with plants like the Peace Lily which on nurserylive.com come planted in a 4” coloured pot with a plate, some marble chip pebbles, a little fairy toy and a printed goody bag.
A popular indoor house plant, Peace Lily produces creamy white flowers and has glossy dark green leaves. The upkeep of this plant is rather simple, with a need to water it only when the soil is dry to touch in summers, and less often in winters/monsoons. The best time to water them is between 8-10 am. It requires trimming mostly in spring and should be re-potted when there isn’t enough space for the roots to spread, with fresh soil and fertilizer. The plant gift is priced at Rs. 241 for each plant for a minimum quantity of 20 plants.
Choose another plant if you wish and decorate it with baby onesie cutouts so guests have their own little one to watch as it grows when they're back home.
Create a Thoughtfully Planned Ceremony for the Guests
A baby shower is a lovely way of welcoming a child in your life, it doesn’t matter which culture you follow or which community you belong to, but the thought of being blessed with positive and happy thoughts, prayers, and wishes for you and your baby are a significant part of your pregnant journey and times to come. Valaikappu or popularly known as a baby shower is usually a women-centric occasion, though modern changes to the tradition have started including the menfolk too. You’ll be the star of the show and your comfort and happiness are top priority, however, it is important to note that no matter how you celebrate this wondrous time in your lives, it is essential to express gratitude to all your loved ones and well-wishers for being there as well, in sharing your happiness and wishing you well. So, here are a few tips to make it easier and memorable for you and them.
- The celebrations
The invites should ideally be gender neutral and a blend of both traditional norms and modern thinking sent out well in advance so guests have ample time to block their date. Even though you’re the chief guest, thoughtfully planned out events will make the guests comfortable and have fun. For a traditional touch, you’d have a couple of mehendi specialists in house to apply mehendi on your women guests, and perhaps a bangle counter where they can choose bangles for themselves in varying sizes and designs. For a modern twist, you’d have baby-themed games like ‘pin the diaper’ blindfold or ‘unscrambling baby words’.
To register all the memories of this beautiful ceremony for you and your baby, you’d have a photo booth with baby props set up and encourage your guests to pose away to glory! You’d even go in for an on-the-spot polaroid print opportunity for them, so they can take away some memories of being a part of the occasion too.
- Baby delights
In a country like ours, which is rich with different cultures, food is a natural invite to someone’s heart and stomach! Plan and organize a menu which is a blend of traditional dishes and modern-day food items for the younger lot. As important as taste is, the presentation of food is equally demanding. The food area that’s set up can be done so in baby them of pink and blue, displaying unique names for the items, like babies in blanket rolls or peas in a pod pulao, etc. There can be a separate corner for cute little displays of cotton candies, chocolates or candies in jars.
- Return favours
It would be a toke of your gratitude to give return gifts after the ceremony to your guests according to your pocket in alternating twists of modern and traditional significance. From silver serving bowls, cutlery in silver, glass bangles, hand embroidered gifts, or Balgopal themed items to modern day party favours like creatively packaged cookies, brownies in boxes to handmade or organic bath and body gift items would be interesting and much appreciated.
Gifts as a Form of Love and Gratitude
In Tamil, 'valla' means bangles and 'kappu' means security. Along with the celebration of a new life coming into the world, the mother-to-be is also pampered and promised that she will be taken care of. As a result, this is a very emotional ceremony for everyone in attendance.
It is important to ensure that the guests feel like an integral part of the celebration with the quality of return gifts you choose to give. It need not be expensive or huge, as Tamilian culture does not approve of lavishness, but something heartfelt and thoughtful will bring back beautiful memories for your guests every time they use your gifts.