• Painting Memories • Past & Present • For the Future •
A baby shower is a tradition practiced in the modern-world today which is based on the idea of ‘showering’ the expectant mother with gifts suitable for babies. It is both a social gathering for the mother-to-be with her relatives and friends as well as a celebration of a new life. However, the original purpose of this gathering was for the women to be able to share their experience and lessons on motherhood to the mother-to-be.
By the way, have I mentioned that baby showers are only attended by women? Baby showers are practiced by almost all races and religion today.
The Tamil Indians celebrates this occasion as well, in a ceremony called ‘Valaikappu’. ‘Vala’ means bangles and ‘kappu’ means security. In plain English, it is described as ‘the bangle ceremony’ as the pregnant mother is ‘showered’ with glass bangles which is slipped into her hand by close family and friends. It is usually performed during the odd months of pregnancy, preferably the fifth or seventh month. The event celebrates the joy of the upcoming motherhood and ensures the welfare of both the mother and the baby inside her womb.
The Kolam is a traditional art form originating from India, which is created with coloured sands.
At the altar, these items are part of the ceremonial ritual. Other objects include many food offerings, bangles and oil lamps.
Preparations of the altar are almost complete, all that is left is the lighting of the lamps. The pictures shows the lighting of a simple bronze oil lamp (left) to the lighting of the beautifully detailed ‘Kuthuvilakku’ lamp being lit (right).
During the Valaikappu, the expectant mother is dressed in a new sari and new jewelry specially for this day, accompanied with fancy head-dress made of beautiful flowers, worthy of a princess.
The Valaikappu is a very colourful ceremony. The pictures above shows the different gifts that are offered to the mother-to-be, many of them contribute to the colours of the ceremony.
Just like in the modern baby showers, Valaikappu is also a ceremony that concerns only the women (with the husband of the mother-to-be) only appearing during the beginning and the end of the ceremony.
After the rituals, the family holds a feast for all relatives and visitors and everyone share in the joyous occasion together.
It is indeed a very meaningful ceremony and joyous ceremony. If one was to ask me what Valaikappu is like, I would explain it in these simple words: Colourful & full of joy and laughter.
Special thanks to Satiaselan and Girija for giving me a chance and trust to shoot in this important celebration of theirs. Good luck and all the best for the coming of the little one into their family!