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Traditionally, baby showers were given only for the family’s first child, and only women were invited. The original intent was for women to share wisdom and lessons on the art of becoming a mother.
Over time, it has become common to hold them for subsequent or adopted children. It is not uncommon for a parent to have more than one baby shower, such as one with friends and another with co-worker.
However, this custom varies by culture or region and in some it is expected and customary for a close female family member to host the baby shower, often the grandmother.

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Baby showers and other social events to celebrate the impending or recent birth are popular around the world. They are commonly “women-only” social gatherings.

A baby shower is a way to celebrate the pending or recent birth of a child by presenting gifts to the parents at a party. The term “shower” is often assumed to mean that the expectant mother is “showered” with gifts.

In Brazil, a party called “chá de bebê” (baby tea) is offered after birth and is often a “women-only” event.

In Chinese tradition, a baby shower, called manyue is held one month after the baby is born. Due to the lack of advanced medical technology in ancient times, the high infant mortality rate prompted families and friends to celebrate if a baby survived more than one month after birth.

In Costa Rica, a baby shower party is called té de canastilla (“basket tea”).

In Hindu tradition, they are called by different names depending on the community the family belongs to. In northern India it is known as godbharaai, in western India, especially Maharashtra, this celebration is known as dohaaljewan, and in West Bengal and Orissa it is called saadh. In Southern India, in Tamil Nadu it is called seemantam or Valaikaapu (The expecting mother wears bangles), and in Karnataka it is called shreemanta and is held when the woman is in her 5th or 7th or 9th months of pregnancy. These three types of celebrations are very similar to each other and are “women-only” events. There is music played, and the expecting mother is decked in traditional attire with lots of flowers and garlands made of jasmine or mogra. A swing is decorated with flowers of her choice, which she uses to sit and swing. At times there are symbolic cut-outs of Moons and Stars that are put up. There are blessings showered on her by the elderly ladies from the household and community. There are gifts given to the expecting mother. It is a very affectionate and fun-filled event for most of the expecting mothers since they are on the threshold of motherhood and entering a new life. In Kerala, it is known as Pulikudi, and is practiced predominantly in the Nair community, though it’s popularity has spread to other Hindu sects as well over the years. On an auspicious day, after being massaged with homemade ayurvedic oil, the woman has a customary bath with the help of the elderly women in the family. After this, the family deity is worshipped, invoking all the paradevatas (family deities) and a concoction of herbal medicines prepared in the traditional way, is given to the woman. The woman is dressed in new clothes and jewellery used for such occasions. A big difference in the western concept of baby shower and Hindu tradition is that the Hindu ceremony is a religious ceremony to pray for the well-being of the baby. In most conservative families gifts are bought for the mother-to-be but not the baby. The baby is showered with gifts only after birth.

In Islam adherents are required to perform aqiqah of newly born child. This involves sacrifice of sacrificial animals. The meat is eaten by relatives and friends which can involve inviting them at home for a feast.

In South Africa, a baby shower is called a stork party, and takes place typically when the mother is about 6 months pregnant. Stork parties are usually not attended by men, and South African men do not have an equivalent party of their own. The stork party is accompanied by silliness such as dressing up, and babycare related gifts are given to the mother. A stork party is often organised as a surprise without the mother’s knowledge.

In the United Kingdom, this is called wetting the baby’s head, and is a more common substitute to a baby shower, which is seen as a materialistic American custom. Wetting the baby’s head is traditionally when the father celebrates the birth by having a few drinks with a group of friends.

In Nepal baby shower is called Pasni. In is often done to the boys in 6 month of their birth and it is done to the girls in 5 months of their birth. People give money and other gifts during the baby shower.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_shower

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