Bunts Pregnancy Rituals

Now, both families await the good news. In the fist pregnancy, there are special rituals performed at both families. The pregnant woman is not offered meal in a kodi-ire (top part of banana leaf) till these rituals are performed.

The first ritual is at the mother’s house. During the seventh month, on an auspicious day, the pregnant woman visits her mother. This ritual is called seemantha, bayake or putting flower on the expecting mother. Mallige, sevanthige and abballige are commonly used flowers for this ceremony. A pingara (areca nut flower) with signs of nuts formed within the cover is carefully removed from the tree, making sure that the cover is intact. All flowers are placed on the tulasi katte and then used for dressing the expecting mother. Close relatives of the mother’s family and neighbors are invited. Only a few people from the husband’s family attend the function. The expecting mother is dressed up for the occasion with jari saree and jewels.

The bayake starts at the auspicious moment. The expecting mother prays at the tulasi katte and sits down holding a veelya (betel leaves and areca nut) and a nanya (coin). In a table in front of her, a plate with akshate is placed. A lamp is lit to her right side. On a harivana (big copper or brass plate) or banana leaf different kinds of sweets made for the occasion are placed. It generally contains odd number of items and odd number of pieces of each item. Acchu bella (jaggary) and ghee are the two essential items. The expecting mother gives pieces of the sweets to the children.

Some people give money to the expecting mother. This money is either given to her husband or in some cases to the mother to cover the expenses of the delivery. A lavish meal with fish and chicken or meat is prepared. In some areas, people prepare curries with basale or drumstick leaves for this occasion. After the meal, she goes back to her in-laws.

This is then followed by a grand bayake at the husband’s house. This is generally done during the eighth month of the pregnancy. Relatives from both families are invited.

The function starts with the kori-budupuna (letting go the chicken) ritual. A plate with rice and deepa are placed next to thetulasi katte. The sister-in-law of the expecting mother holds the right hand and takes her around the tulaski katte. They then stand next to the tulasi katte, the expecting mother facing east and the mother-in-law facing the west. The mother-in-law circles a small chicken over the woman’s head three times to ward-off dhristhi. She will hold the chicken in her hand and asks the expecting mother to feed the rice to the chicken. The chicken is fed three times and then released. The chicken should not lay eggs before the woman delivers the baby (the selection of the chicken is done very carefully keeping the term of the pregnancy and the maturity of the chicken in mind). The chicken can not be a rooster (the sex of the chick is not very clear till they are a few months old making the task of selecting the chicken very difficult, especially if the bayake is done early in the pregnancy). The chicken stays in the husband’s house and the woman can not eat this chicken.

Then the mother-in-law presents a saree and jewelry along with betel nut and five betel leaves to the expecting mother. She then gets dressed. The expecting mother is seated for the bayake. The husband places pingaara on the mudi (hair) of his wife. The women perform the bayake balasune ritual. In this ritual, the expecting mother is given a glass. The women put a spoon of amritha (toddy) and grains of pori (puffed rice) to the glass.

After this ritual, a table is placed in front of her. A white piece of cloth is placed on the table and a banana leaf is placed on this cloth. All the sweets and fruits are placed on the banana leaf by the mother-in-law or sister-in-laws. Odd number of items and odd number of pieces for each item are served on the leaf. The expecting mother then will pick a few pieces and give to small children. The sweets are then bundled using the cloth underneath.

Following this, the expecting mother eats lunch. Her “made” banana leaf is refilled with fresh food and placed on a thadpe. It is carried outside the house where a kadu-koraga[ lady would be waiting. The expecting mother gives the thadpe with food to the kadu-koraga lady. She puts enne (oil) on the head of the kadu-koraga lady. This is called enne-padune.

The elders of the family pray and put aside a coin (this is called mudipu kattune) that would be offered to the temple after the delivery. Expecting mother then leaves for her mother’s house. The bundle of goodies is sent with her to her mother’s house. The expecting mother will return to her in-laws with the baby

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