When a little one is born into a Bengali household, the little one has surpass a series of customs! Some of these customs are remarkably funny and you ought to know about them!
1. Don’t let anyone know that the baby is coming.
In the ninth month of her pregnancy, the expectant mother has to participate in a food tasting ritual which ends with a dessert called Payesh (a sweetened dish of rice and condensed milk).Bengalis believe that childbirth calls for cheating the gods and making them believe that no baby is on board, thus ensuring a safer delivery. There are no obvious signs of preparation made for the baby; no new clothes bought or bedding made. The Bengalis believe the science behind this ritual to be defying the gods so as to prevent them from meddling with the birth of a child in the household.
2. The averters of Evil.
Since the moment of their birth up until the age of three, Bengali babies have their eyes and foreheads smudged with Kajal (Charcoal). It is believed that the black color of the kajal averts evil and keeps the baby guarded from any type of sinister force. After a session of excessive compliments received by relatives and sometimes parents themselves, the governess of the baby might burn chilies in a brazier sending out clouds of stinging smoke to blind the eyes of the evil gods and send them scurrying away
3. Dress up babies like bride/bridegroom and give them the choice of their life while introducing them to solid food for the first time.
There is a Bengali ritual for introducing babies to solid food called - Annaprashan. In this ceremony the six or seven month old toddler is dressed up as a bride or bridegroom and made to sit on the mother’s lap. They are then given a tray of assorted ritual objects: a lump of earth, a sacred book, a pen and a silver coin. If the baby first picks up the pen it means he/she will be fond of studies; the earth signifies fertility and prosperity, the money signifies wealth and the sacred book signifies religion. After this ritual and the puja, the mother dips a gold ring in a bowl of Payesh and gives it to the baby to suck. This is followed by tiny pinches of fish, Shukto (a vegetarian preparation with loads of vegetables) and sweetened yoghurt. Bengali rituals may be silly, but Bengalis are the sweetest of people and put in every effort to give their newborns, experiences that are just as sweet. Funny or not, these Bengali customs are sure to make their place in your heart.
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