Baby Shower: Storking gifts before the arrival

Blessings are bestowed upon the mother-to-be before the visit of the stork.

Saadia Qamar June 13, 2011


What better way of celebrating the arrival of a baby than having a baby shower? Baby showers are popular and trendy parties whereby guests give presents to a mum-to-be before the baby is born.

For 27-year-old Uzma Khan becoming a mother was no doubt a joyous moment, but to cherish the experience of expecting a child till the real time of motherhood dawned was “a fantastic experience, altogether”.

Towards the end of February, when she was a few weeks away giving birth, Khan’s best friend organised a baby shower for her. Khan said, “It was an evening event and 25 of my close friends were invited. It was an all girls’ affair and I was thrilled to meet my friends. It wasn’t a complete surprise as I knew that my friends were planning something.” Reflecting on the memorable thematic party, Khan says, “The theme was based around the character of Winnie the Pooh. There were cup cakes with Winnie the Pooh character icing and party hats printed with cartoons, too! I was made to wear a tiara and a sash which said Mommy-To-Be”.

Khan remembers that she received a few presents like a bouncer, a carry-set and baby clothes at the occasion, hence this made her all the more happy and relieved, that she wouldn’t have to do baby shopping on her own!

“Like many other occasions that have trickled down to the East, the baby shower has made its way too, not as extensively as the likes of Valentine’s, Mother’s or Father’s day, but it is surely paving its way into the elite of Pakistan. It is yet another excuse to gather friends and loved ones to a brunch or lavish dinner, before the birth of the first child,” says Tahir Shamim of Parfaire, a company that manages events.

When asked if the trend has picked up in Karachi recently, Shamim says: “The East and West have a strong opposite attraction going on, over the past few years many western celebrations have become a part of our festivities, the new brigade of youths returning after studies from the West have brought the concept of baby showers and different themes are gradually picking up.”

The baby shower is a theme based function, where: “Themes are usually in pink, white or blue hues depending on the client’s taste. It can be a formal dinner in formal wear or could be a casual gossiping brunch over the weekend; the colour theme is followed usually in the flower decor and arrangements.”

There is no set rule for when the shower is to be held. The number of guests and style of entertainment is determined by the host. Most hosts invite only women to baby showers, although there is no firm rule requiring this. Showers typically include party food but not a full meal. Guests come bearing gifts for the expectant mother, which mainly comprise of useful items such as diapers, baby bottles, clothes and toys.

A concept similar to baby showers embedded in our culture, is the godh bharaai. They are women-only events. To the sound of the dholak and singing of folk songs, the expecting mother is decked in with flower garlands made of jasmine or marigolds and intricate patterns of henna are applied on her hands and feet. A swing is decorated with flowers of her choice, and the mother-to-be is showered with blessings by elderly ladies from her household and community. Gifts are placed in her lap and it traditionally implies that her lap has been filled with happiness.

Shamim differentiating between the two traditions says: “Godh bharaai is more of a formal event where the expecting mother meets her extended family. It is a sort of a dholki where people dance, the focus is on food and the family’s head member, usually the mother in-law, invites the guests. Baby showers, on the contrary, are a private affair where the mother-to-be can let her hair down and enjoy with friends.

To celebrate the new arrival, a variety of bridal showers are held across the globe. In China, many believe it is unlucky to throw a shower for an unborn baby. Hence the party, called a Miyue, is held after the arrival of the little one. In parts of Europe, especially Germany, fathers celebrate the baby’s birth with a drinking party, usually an all-male event within days of the birth.

With additional reporting from Tehreem Aidrus

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.


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