There are specific times in the life of a human being that, according to Vedic philosophy, are said to greatly impact his or her character. These are called sanskaras. These times and the rituals associated with them are a process of purification and divinizing. One of them is the seventh month of pregnancy, which is heavily emphasized (the first two are at the time of conception and during the fourth month of the pregnancy). Depending on where you are from in India, the traditions and rituals will vary.
The general spirit of this sanskar is to protect the mother-to-be from illness, negative energies, or any other negative influences. The mother’s spouse or partner performs most of the rites. It is a shift in the pregnancy where the mother and father now become ready for the arrival of the newborn and whatever the mothers’ and baby’s needs are. (And for that reason foods of the mother’s likings are celebrated and encouraged—something I thoroughly enjoyed!)
In my ceremony, we had our closest family and friends attend as well-wishers and to symbolize the Divine witnessing this transition of ours on the humble, human plane. We had a priest who led us through the ceremony, reciting verses from our scriptures that my husband repeated after him. Our offerings were towards Ganesh, one of the manifestations of God recognized in Hinduism. Ganesh symbolizes the aspect of God that removes obstacles and celebrates new beginnings, and as such is often a part of these sanskara rituals.
It was a beautiful sunny day. As I got ready I felt overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about where we started and where we were on that day. I was also overwhelmed with gratitude when I thought about everyone who was present and how much support and love my husband, Charlie (what we call the baby), and I have.
We were filled with gratitude for everything we have been given, for family we have, and above all, for Charlie. Our hearts were full of love and acceptance and excitement for the new phase to come. Truly, we felt like our obstacles and weight had been released, leaving us feeling vibrant, light, and free. We made a resolution (sankalp) and asked for strength to be strong, compassionate, generous, and selfless parents. The priest’s powerful chanting and amazingly impactful energy seemed to charge the entire atmosphere with these qualities.
We chose not to play the typical baby shower games or receive gifts (not that there is anything at all wrong with doing so). We wanted the day to be simple and entirely focused on the ceremony and the Divine. And I am glad we did.
I find these sanskara’s to be impactful reminders of my life goals, especially before embarking on new ventures or making a major transition. It sets my mind, heart, and actions to be more in sync when they often may want to act in contradiction due to opposing desires, thoughts, or forces. The ancient seers and wise beings viewed this time (the seventh month of pregnancy) as an opportune time to do so. Even if you do not have a ceremony as I did, use this time to make that resolve and ask for strength as you set your eyes on the arrival of your newborn. Write a letter to the Divine, make a short pilgrimage to a special place, meditate with your partner. Make this special time really special.