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August 8, 2010

Traditions and Superstitions

Baby are vulnerable to EVIL. Or so we are lead to believe. And by 'evil', I don't mean the evils of the world - discrimination, violence, hatred, or ummm...too-much-television. I'm talking, The Boogey Man. Well, not really, but kinda. In almost all cultures around the world, pregnant women and new mommies have been given some sort of warning or advice when it comes to the well-being of the baby. Most modern moms heed these to a lesser degree, since we now have a whole new array of things to worry about when it comes to raising our children - what diaper to use on our baby, should we feed organic, is classical music really beneficial and so on. However, in previous generations, superstitions and beliefs that were a part of upbringing the children, were to be not flouted!

When I got pregnant, I heard so many superstitions that were soo ridiculous, they were really amusing. Here are some of the ones I remember:
Wake up in the morning and look at pictures of good looking people - Or else your baby won't be so pretty.
Don't look at anything with snakes or other animals on/in it - Or else your baby will be negatively affected by the images and may even turn out looking snake-isn. (Why was I told this one? - Because while I was pregnant and had a lot of time to be lazy, I loved watching The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and National Geographic.)
Keep cloves of garlic in your purse or pocket whenever you go out - Or else an evil Witch was going to attack you! (Lol...why that witch was going to attack me, I'm not sure. I never bothered to clarify)
There was an eclipse while I was pregnant and I was advised not to drink anything, eat anything, or DO ANYTHING during that time. Why? Because in India, Bangladesh and believe or not even the Aztecs, believed that a pregnant woman who saw an eclipse would have a baby with a harelip.


Once I had Arissa, I got a whole new slew of old wives tales:
Make sure you don't step on your breast milk - or else your milk supply will decrease. (The logic behind this is beyond me.)
Don't eat anything too cold - Or else your baby will catch a cold! (So, can my baby also get brain freeze from my breast milk? Hmmm..)
And the one I hear most often - Put a dot with Black Kohl on her! Now, even I had that put on me when I was a baby and almost all babies in the Indian Sub-continent in earlier generations have had the signature black dot smudged onto their forehead. This is done to make the child seem imperfect (hard to do because all babies are so Perfect and Precious!). This supposedly prevents compliments so that the baby doesn't fall into the 'Evil Eye's' radar and and wards of the 'Evil Eye' who would have otherwise harmed or attacked the baby from envy.

You may be able to see the dot on the left side of my forehead (i.e your right)
And I've read that in Japan and Korea, parents used to name their children after some variation of "shit" (:s) for the first few years, so that the evil eye passes them by. Interesting eh?
Well, as interesting as it may be, I just don't Believe. So I am taking the risk and saying 'pass' to the black kohl. I wouldn't have put any on her if we were still living in Canada and I don't plan to because we are now in Bangladesh.

Now, most of the above has been about superstitions. One 'tradition' I'm finding hard to escape is the one where I'm suppose to shave off all the beautiful hair on my baby girl's head. Apparently, it's suppose to make your baby's hair grow back more lush and voluminous. Almost all babies in Bangladesh, have their hair shaved off within the first 6 months of birth and when everyone sees my baby's head is still full of the baby soft hair she was born with, they immediately ask me why I haven't shaved it all of or when I'm planning to (although some bald babies do look very cute). Family members are always telling me to do it and I just don't think I can bring myself to. I mean how am I going to put all those adorable bows and clips on her then?
Well, I can't say whether shaving the hair results in it growing back better (I believe it's mostly genetics, and then later on hair care) but I will say - Please don't try to Bald my Baby!!


4 comments:

Afsana K said...

aww.shes so cute with her hair..but i wonder how she will look witout...it wil lb cute...itll grow back fast tho if u do decide to cut it .lol

Anonymous said...

lol these superstitions used to freak me out too, it's interesting though!

but the last one about head shaving..i should say, it's more of islamic sunnah than a tradition. It is mentioned in Qu'ran briefly and also has been talked about in Hadiths.
I read once "Ibn Al-Qayem said about the benefit of shaving the newborn's hair: Shaving his head removes the harm from him, removes the weak hair so that stronger and firmer hair replaces it and it is beneficial for the head. In addition, it comforts the newborn and opens the head's skin openings... Refer to Ahkamul Tifl: Ahmad Al-Eesawee 192"

This seems pretty reasonable to me..and I have seen lots of babies getting their head shaved here in Canada. Parents say it's for their comfort especially after first few months of their birth. parens just need to be extra careful when shaving the soft little heads, besides their hair grow back super quick.
anyway..just wanted to share. :o) btw, Sunanara does look amazingly adorable with those clips!

Antara And Sunvi said...

@anonymous...thanks for the comment :) was not aware that it was mentioned in the hadith...actually i think most people are unaware of the religious aspect behind the head shaving...but then again calling it tradition is not entirely incorrect. traditions/customs/culture..most have risen from some sort of religious practice right? basically something in the name of religion was done by a group of people and then that passed down from generation to generation making it a tradition or custom...I did read that the whole black kohl and evil eye was present in islam as well...however i have seen babies who do just fine without it and babies who have the dot all year round and are still sick all year round..
as for the head shaving...in the end from personal experience...I feel that children who genetically inherit thin or fine hair will always have thin or fine hair...and I have also read that children lose most of the hair they are born with anyways...although i do understand the being more comfortable with a bald head thing... even i would be! Still I don't plan on shaving her hair. Although I may trim it very soon :)
And thanks for the compliments on Sunara...we love those clips =)

Antara And Sunvi said...

@afsana
she'll probably look like a boy!! lol

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