Yesterday I again picked up the topic of superstitions, observing differences in the belief of two or three generations, and also today I would like to deepen the topic of out-dated and sometimes ridiculous beliefs. Many people in the west probably don’t know how much a lot of Indian people actually still follow superstition – and superstition that has a big influence on their lives! Today I want to describe some of the rules that are usually followed after the birth of a baby – and which I find useless, senseless and partly even dangerous.
While reading this, you have to keep in mind that belief always varies from one region of the country to another. It can be the same or it can be similar but it can also be very different.
The first thing that many parents in the west will do when they know that a baby is on its way is to buy a set of clothes. Parents here would never do this. Why? Because it is believed that you should not dress your newborn baby in new clothes for approximately one and a half months. Babies will wear only old clothes, worn by their siblings, relatives or friends. If there are no old clothes in the house, people take old sheets or adult clothes, cut them in pieces and sew something for the baby which is then not new but already worn.
I challenge this belief and say that it is impossible that people actually follow it. For how long will there be only old clothes used? At some point there will be someone who buys a new piece of clothing! Otherwise why would shops even sell them? No, there are some believers who don’t take this rule very seriously!
Then there is all the things that people believe a new mother should do or better not do. The first 45 days after the birth of the child are a time in which the mother is not allowed to enter the kitchen. She will actually stay in one room and eat and sleep there. Just like in the time of menstruation, this time after childbirth is a time in which she is ‘impure’.
Doesn’t that sound like a big joke? This woman just gave birth to a new child on this earth, this is the biggest miracle of nature itself, that life comes from the womb of a woman – and you call her impure? Of course it is right that she does not have to do the cooking and cleaning in that time, she needs time to rest! But confining her to this one room means that she won’t really get space to walk around, which is necessary for a quick recovery!
The worst thing however is that they don’t usually give those women proper food! They insist on feeding plain lentils soup and porridge without any spices, not even salt! Vegetables are not on the menu, instead women have to eat lots of nuts in sugar and ghee. That is supposed to give them strength whereas spices and salt are said to harm the baby who is breastfeeding. Additionally mothers should keep themselves warm, so they will wear scarves and shawls and drink only warm water, nothing cold or on room temperature.
This is the biggest nonsense of all! How is a woman supposed to be able to get strong again after giving birth with this kind of diet? Where are the vitamins supposed to come from? And then this woman’s body will try to produce breast milk without having eaten any green vegetables for days!
Instead of giving a woman what she needs for a quick recovery, such superstition keeps everything from them what could be good. They are not allowed to move or to eat properly! How can their body regain strength? Instead they are getting an overdose of fat and sugar. Congratulations, believers, this is what you, in your outdated minds think to be healthy.
While the clothing is just nonsense in my eyes, the last points can actually harm mother and baby and I want to appeal to everybody reading these lines to take influence on the Indian parents in their surroundings. Encourage them to talk to a doctor about nutrition if they don’t believe you and try to talk them out of their superstition! Read, get to know what is really healthy and go new ways!