When a woman attains pregnancy, it is considered as the most special phase for her as well as her family. The family members celebrate the 9 months to welcome the new comer into the family. They pamper the to- be mother with anything and everything from buying her favorite sweets to sarees and Jewelry. The whole family takes care of her as a Queen who is about to give birth to a beautiful Prince or Princess in few months. They even take her to some good places where there is a lot of positivity and where one can directly embrace with nature like Temples, beach as it is believed that all those vibes and energy which the mother gets goes directly to the baby in the womb. Similarly like Baby showers in the West, Valakappu/Seemandham is a ritual or a function performed in India to welcome the unborn baby to the family. It is mostly conducted in the 5th,7th or in the 9th month by the in-law’s family as a token of thanking the woman for gifting their family with a baby, praying for a safe delivery and as well as welcoming the tiny tot before he/she steps into the world.
As in all other Indian rituals, an auspicious day and time is first prescribed by a priest to schedule the event. To carry on with this even at least 5 ladies must be invited. The to-be mother is dressed up in a new saree, adoring jewelry and beautiful flowers and is made to be seated in the centre of the house or the stage in case of party halls. First, she prays to god wishing for the healthy delivery of her child. The house or the hall is decorated with colorful flowers and balloons and plates filled with sweets and fruits are kept in front of the to- be mother. Seemantham songs are usually made to play in the background or some ladies sing songs together.
Once the function begins the mom to be first gets her blessings from the elderly women of the family like her mother, mother in law followed by invited ladies guests. They apply sandalwood on her cheeks and hands, keep kumkum and put 2 bangles each on her hands and bless her. Then the mother or the mother in law offers a thambulam which contains new saree, flowers, fruits, sweets, and jewelry as a blessing for safe delivery. In some house even the father to do the above rituals. Then all the elderly ladies together take a mangala aarthi with dissolved haldi as a ritual of abolishing all the drishti to the child as well as the mother. At the end of the ceremony she looks like a beautiful bride with those colorful bangles and big tummy which is photographed aesthetically as even for some this pregnancy period is also a onetime event. The child would definitely be fascinated to see his/her mom during the pregnancy period when he/she was inside her tummy so a lot of pictures during the rituals are clicked as happy memories.
After the main function is over, the mother to be and the father to be cuts a cake mostly and celebrate the day. Again a traditional feast is arranged to the guests and a thambulam bag with coconut, sweets and beetle leaf are given to the guests as a token of thanks for taking effort to come and bless the mother and child.