Ceremony honouring the mother-to-be
Shrimanta = wealthy person / person worthy of respect and honour
Kholo bharvano = to fill a person's lap
Sanskar = a ritual marking an important milestone in our life cycle
The wonderful ceremony of Shrimant, is also referred to as called Kholo bharvano in Gujarati. It literally means "to fill the lap of the expectant lady" with auspicious items. Usually, this is one of the few female only functions. In our progressive times, with equal rights for all, now we often celebrate this with everyone from the family being present on the occasion.
It is one of the rare sanskars, which is not usually accompanied by priests performing yagna, homa or specific pujas. Due to its tradition of female only participants, I feel this is one of the pre-Vedic rituals that has entered our great Hindu traditions, which absorbed the best ideas of all that it came in contact with. Essentially, the ceremony celebrates the fertility of the mother-to-be.
Traditionally, the rituals we follow, honour the pregnant lady and treat as an embodiment of the great goddess. She is usually anointed with sandal wood paste, fragrant attars, dressed in expensive silks, garlanded with fresh flowers and decked out in jewels. We greet the divinity within her, and her child, as the embodiment of the universal spirit.
Senior sister-in-law(s) in the family place rice in her lap. Symbolically, this represents the seeds offered to the mother Earth, who returns them to us manifolds. It celebrates the generous, bountiful nature of Nature.
At this crucial, final stage of the pregnancy, a raksha / rakhadi, is tied to the right hand of the mother-to-be to ward off any evil eye and seek divine protection for her and her child.
Junior brother-in-laws diyar / devar gently press her cheek, leaving hand imprints in auspicious kumkum. In our culture, the diyar / devar is treated as a son. By gently caressing the bhabhi, diyar is reminding her not to forget her pseudo son, just because she is going to give birth to her own child soon. Bhabhi, in return gives presents to the diyar, confirming her affection for him and telling him that from now on, he will have additional responsibilities, as a kaka (paternal uncle)!!
These I feel are the hidden meanings and symbols behind the ritual of Shrimant.
Blessing the soul in the womb
Generally, the ceremony is accompanied by ladies singing auspicious verses, folk songs and general merriment. People also recite Sanskrit verses blessing the mother and child, invoking divine protection for them both. Here is are some blessings we may want to invoke on such an occasion.
Let us, together, bless the soul that is to be born with good karmas, is brave, strong, energetic, intelligent, kind, considerate, aspirational and inspirational.
Let us, together, bless this child so that it is respectful & obedient towards its elders, is generous, gentle, devote, honourable and a respectable upright pillar of the society.
Let us, together, bless this child with a long, fruitful, happy life, full of health, wealth and wisdom.
Omshanti, shanti, shanti he !
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