Traditional Birth Rituals in Himachal Pradesh

In Himachal Pradesh, the arrival of a new life is celebrated with a unique blend of customs and traditions that carry a distinct local flavor. These birth rituals, deeply rooted in the region's culture, offer a fascinating glimpse into the rich heritage of the people. The birth of a son is celebrated with great enthusiasm, where the entire community comes together to mark the joyous event. The mother, in particular, is accorded immense respect during this period. Let's delve into the rich customs and traditions surrounding childbirth in this region.

Naming Cermonies

  • Mura Tradition: This charming custom,at the birth of male child called 'Mura,' is a central element of naming ceremonies.It involves the distribution of Gur (jaggery), parched rice, or wheat grains.
  • Day and Month-Based Naming: Among the Kolis, boys are often named according to the day or month of their birth. For instance, a boy born on Tuesday (Mangalvaar) might be named 'Manglu.'
  • The 'Negi' Suffix: In Kinnaur, it's customary for the Kinnauri people to add the 'Negi' suffix to the names of their children, contributing to a distinctive naming tradition.
  • Paternal Naming: In Shimla district, a prevalent practice is naming sons after their fathers, reflecting a unique naming convention.
  • Adoption of New Family Names: Among the Khashas and Kolis, it's common to adopt new family names, symbolizing the importance of family and lineage in the region's culture. These customs collectively paint a vivid picture of Himachal Pradesh's rich heritage and diverse traditions observed by its people during naming ceremonies.

Traditional Celebrations

Welcoming a Son:

When a baby boy is born, villagers illuminate their homes with lamps, and the women from the neighborhood gather to sing songs of joy and offer their congratulations. The mother is revered and cherished during this time. The baby is delivered by experienced midwives, who are compensated in both cash and kind.

Shukud Custom:

In the Kinnaur area, a unique custom called "Shukud" is practiced. When a male child is born, the palanquins of the gods are brought into their homes. A grand feast, complete with rich food and liquor, is organized for the villagers. In some cases, a goat may also be sacrificed as part of this celebration.

Brahmin Traditions:

Among the Brahmin community, several ceremonies are performed with great joy. These include "Namkaran" (naming of the infant), "Chudakaran" (the first snipping of the baby's locks), and "Annaprashan" (the baby's first taste of cereals). These ceremonies hold significant cultural importance in the region.

Frequently, individuals place small silver or copper amulets, known as 'jantar,' around the child's neck as a protective measure to ward off the negative influence of malevolent stars. This practice reflects the deep-rooted belief in safeguarding the child's well-being .

Horoscope and Marriages:

One key aspect of childbirth is getting a horoscope written for the baby. In Himachal Pradesh, marriages cannot be arranged without ensuring the compatibility of the couple's horoscopes.

Birth Rituals

Isolation of the Mother:

At the time of childbirth, the mother is secluded in a separate room. In tribal areas, she may be lodged in a cattle-manor known as "Khudd."

Sootak Period:

The first twenty days following childbirth are referred to as the "Sootak" period. During this time, the family refrains from participating in religious rituals. Any accidental touch of idols during this period is considered pollution, necessitating an animal sacrifice to appease the gods.

First Ghutti Feeding:

Other important ceremonies include the father's first sighting of the baby and the initial feeding of Ghutti, a traditional tonic, to the infant. It is believed that the child inherits the temperament of the person who administers the first Ghutti dose, so this role is given to an exceptionally good-natured family member.

Goontar Ceremony:

After the twenty-day Sootak period, the "cleansing up" ceremony, known as "Goontar," is celebrated with great joy.In this ceremony mixture of curd,sugar,cow's urine and Gangajal is sprinkled over all the clothes in the house and tasted by all the young and old members.

 Following the birth of a child, a nourishing concoction is prepared for the mother. Special sweets known as "Sunds" are prepared and distributed among close relatives during this event.This mixture consists of "Gur" (jaggery) and "ghee" (refined butter). It is offered to the new mother as both food and drink, replenishing her strength after the laborious process of childbirth.


Relatives and well-wishers join in the celebration of the birth by offering "Turf leaves" along with a symbolic gesture of one Rupee. This gesture is a sign of goodwill and blessings for the newborn and the family, further enhancing the sense of community during this joyous occasion.

The Sacred Umbilical Chord

The cutting of the umbilical cord is a significant moment in the birth process. In Himachal Pradesh, this act is performed by a midwife who holds a silver coin or a silver instrument. 

Differing Celebrations for Daughters

In Himachal Pradesh, the birth of a daughter carries heavy responsibilities, and not all celebrate it as a joyous occasion. In certain areas, the girls from the village engage in playful activities, such as chasing the girl's father, while he pretends to run away.

Protecting the Child

After casting the child's horoscope, efforts are made to propitiate any negative influences. Special Pujas are conducted, and alms are distributed. To ward off evil stars, little silver or copper Jantar (amulets) are hung around the child's neck.

Kheerpoo Ceremony

When the child reaches seven months of age, they are introduced to their first taste of cereal, typically in the form of "kheer" (rice pudding). This ceremony, known as "Kheerpoo," is celebrated with great significance. A silver article shaped like a blade of grass is used to feed the child. This ceremony is not exclusive to boys; female children also partake, with special songs sung in their honor. It is believed that the child's future occupation can be foretold by the object they choose from a basket of various daily use items.

Childbirth in Himachal Pradesh is a time-honored tradition, deeply rooted in culture and customs, and it is a celebration that brings communities together in joy and reverence.These traditions are a testament to the vibrant cultural heritage of this region, where every birth is a momentous occasion, marked with love, respect, and an unwavering connection to the land and its people.

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