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Malana - Community
 Birth Customs

A Village ChildBirth customs of the valley are unique to it. There are certain do's and don'ts that are to be followed by a pregnant female. She is to avoid certain things like wandering alone in the dark or near a forest. The husband is not allowed to kill animals during the pregnancy of his wife but he may eat non-vegetarian food. The expectant woman usually lives in the lower storey of the house to keep herself away from the cold winds.

There are no professional midwives to help the woman while giving birth to the child. After giving birth, the mother is made to drink a nutritious mixture of ghee (clarified butter) and gur (jaggery) called Gurani. She is supposed to take bath herself and to bathe the child daily for 30 days with cow's urine and water. The birth of the child is announced by distributing Mura made of sugar lumps or parched grains.

After delivery, for a period of about eleven days, the mother of the newborn child is considered impure and no one accepts eatables from her till the ceremony of purification takes place. The ceremony of purification, known as Gauntriala is held on the 11th day in the Brahmin families and on the 13th day in the Rajput families. In this ceremony, also known as 'Kuni Ne Uthna', the mother's clothes and the house are purified by sprinkling a mixture of curd, sugar, cow's urine, milk and Gangajal (water from Holy River Ganges). Mother sips a spoon of the same and this signifies her purification. A feast is arranged on that day and the pandit (the priest) starts preparing the horoscope of the child. A propitious day is fixed for taking the child into daylight for the first time.

After eight or ten months, the pandit gives the child his first meal on a specific day. Kheer (rice pudding) is prepared for the child and a bit of it is placed on a silver coin to be fed to the infant.

Mundan Ceremony This is a ceremony in which a male child gets his first haircut done. It usually takes place when he is three, five or seven years of age. It is customary to conduct this ceremony at the shrine of the family God or in the temple of Lord Shiva. Clipped hair are placed along with some cow dung, milk and two coins wrapped in a piece of cloth and later on offered at the temple or the shrine of Kulja (family god/goddess) or a holy river. The ceremony is performed to receive blessings for the child. The cutting ceremony is first of all started by the maternal uncle of the child and is carried on by a barber. The maternal uncle bears all the expenses of the ceremony.

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