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Ceremonies and rituals observed by Kashmiri Pandits with the childbirth in the recent past

By  M.M. Munshi

The ceremonies pertaining to child birth in Kashmiri Pandit are of two kinds Dharmick or Sanskritic and non-Dharmic or non‑Sanskritic. Non-Dharamic ceremonies/rituals are distinguished from the Dharmic by the fact that the priest and mantras have no place in the former and women of the family and neighborhood play the major role. A Sanskritic tradition stipulates the performance of a ritual a few days before the marriage of a girl to ensure she becomes fertile. There is also an non-Dharmic ceremony in the seventh month of pregnancy Dud Duin. This ceremony used to become a pretext for the pregnant woman to visit Natal House (Malun) for a few weeks rest before returning to her conjugal House (Variv) with gifts of clothes, cash last but not the least Zamud Dud (curds),which is regarded highly auspicious. Besides rest the visit to natal house also provided opportunity to spend some time with her parents and siblings to feel less tense and nervous than she would feel with her in-laws with whom she might have spent hardly a year or two. The ceremony was usually held before the delivery of the first child rarely before the delivery of second child but never after the delivery of the second child.

The ceremony of Dud Duin was an occasion for rejoicing in KP families as woman’s first conception was regarded biggest event in her life. When a daughter‑in‑law delivered her first child they would say that she has proved her worth (Athi Aye).

A KP child was ushered on a soft straw mattress of Darbgass which was rendered holy by incense and recitation of mantras. The mid wife who assisted in the childbirth was always a Muslim woman. The family astrologer or head of the family used to note the exact time and date of the birth for casting the Horoscope (Zatuk). The bed on which woman used to deliver the child was known as Hurru and near the hurru was placed an earthen pot called Hurrileg. As part of the ritual generally uncooked rice was sprinkled around the bed. The mother (Losa) was given little food for first three days after the delivery and on fourth day was served meals in earthen or bronze vessel and same day mother's parents used to send gifts of mutton preparations and bread.

Non-Sanskritic rituals used to follow on third, fifth and sixth days after the childbirth. The ceremony on sixth day Shran‑Sondur included first both for the child and mother also if she was well. After bathing food was offered to seven deities in earthen and bronze vessels. In some families the sister of the father of the child and in other families the Muslim mid wife used to light a torch of birch bark and wave around the head of the mother and child and woman used to say in chorus Shokh ta Panzun meaning congratulations and may you have more children.

On 11th/12th day the mother and child were given ceremonial baths. The first Dharmic function Kahnethar on the same day or soon after was performed which nowadays is much delayed and performed with a thread ceremony or a marriage or positively before the last rites of a deceased member of the family.

In KP society childbirth causes ritual pollution Hontsh to the woman who gives birth to a child and near male relations and their wives of her husband not necessarily by physical touch but also mystical extension, and last for about 10 days. Even if a woman has delivered a child in her natal house, the member of that family do not suffer pollutions for long. Only those who assist at the time of childbirth are polluted they could be restored to normal state of purity by a luxurious bath.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel  

 

 
 

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