Godh bharai is a baby shower celebrated during pregnancy to welcome the unborn baby to the family and bless the mother-to-be with abundant joys of motherhood. In Hindi, godh bharai literally means to 'fill the lap' with abundance. In Bengal it is known as shaad, in Kerala, seemandham and in Tamil Nadu it is called valakappu
It depends on the community the family belongs to. In some families the ceremony is held when the mother-to-be completes her seventh month of pregnancy. It is believed that after the seventh month, the baby and mother are in a safe phase. In some families it is celebrated at the end of the eighth month. Some families also choose not to have a godh bharai ceremony and prefer to have a puja only after the birth of the baby.
While the rituals followed in various parts of the country on the occasion of godh bharai may differ, the essence remains the same - to bless the unborn baby and shower the pregnant mum-to-be with blessings and gifts.
In some homes, the pregnant mum-to-be is anointed with special oils by the elderly women in the family. She is then dressed up in a special saree and adorned with flowers. A puja is performed before the festivities begin.
Traditionally, godh bharai is a 'women-only' gathering. The ceremony may include adorning the mum-to-be with jewellery, making her wear bangles, filling her lap with gifts, fruits and sweets and laying out a feast before her. It is also common for the ceremony to be filled with singing, dancing and a fair amount of teasing and fun. It may include some games such as guessing the gender of the baby by the size and shape of the pregnant mum's belly or creating a names list for your baby.
In most traditional homes, gifts such as bangles, clothes or cash are given only for the mum-to-be. Gifts for the baby are given only after the birth.