Of pregnancy and beliefs

Delivering a child in Tibetan circles is serious business. But even then, there’s an underlying humor in the beliefs and traditions that you just cannot miss.

“Tsokpa mashor-wa chey,” friends and well-wishers from afar would say over the phone. “Be careful to avoid impurities.”

Impurities were generally certain foods, particularly pork.

“Lo los,” I’d respond. “Sure.”

And yet, there was an underlying belief that in consuming the impure foods, you run the risk of changing the baby’s gender, mainly from a he to a she. My husband and I told everyone that was impossible. The science of development would have no way of explaining a gender change in the eighth month of pregnancy.

Still, the belief was too deep-rooted to change and could warrant a separate post by itself.

In another interesting anecdote, Amala, my mother, recounted, in all seriousness, that expecting mothers in Tibet would gulp a blob of blessed butter shortly before delivery and that at delivery, the newborn infant would emerge from his mother’s womb, successfully carrying the blob of blessed butter on his head.

When my husband and I laughed, refusing to believe this was possible, my mum told us she’d get people who had actually experienced this to corroborate her story. And rightly enough, there was an old neighbour who said her first child came out with the butter and that the nurses in the labour room had poked fun. There was also a friend of my mother’s, a mother of eight. She too knew this to be true, as a few of her kids hadn’t come into this world empty-handed (or would it be empty-headed).

We didn’t really buy that story but fortunately, or maybe not-so-fortunately, for me, I wasn’t made to prove if this age-old tradition still holds true.

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