Keeping in mind the hormonal changes, mood swings and thus the irrational palate during pregnancy, traditional sour-sweet, tangy, savory, and spicy foods like chaat (mixture of potatoes, onion, white peas, tamarind, curd, and condiments), and pakora (batter fried vegetables) is quite common. A sweet pudding (kheer/payas) made of fragrant rice, milk, dry fruits, jaggery, or sugar follows.
Other foods include pickles, papad (lentil wafers), chutneys, fried breads, (kachauri) with raita (spicy yoghurt dips), and many more. Relatives also bring a variety of foods.
Many prenatal food are described in song. For example, “Sonth Ke Laddu Charfare Hain” describes the ubiquitous laddoos—sweet balls with blood purifying, pain reliving, anti-oxidant, and energizing qualities made of dried ginger (sonth) or tragacanth gum (gond), fennel, flour, ghee (purified butter), jaggery syrup/sugar, and dry fruits, such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, and raisins.
There are many cultural variants among the Indian Muslim community too. In Rajasthan, Manganiars celebrate a child’s birth with folk songs of gratitude at the arrival of the newborn who is blessed with prosperity and health.
Most Muslims perform a circumcision on the eighth day of the child’s birth and believe that the sounds of the azaan—La ilaaha illilaah, mahmad-ur-rasulullaha—should be the first words to enter the baby’s ears. Softened dates with honey are rubbed on the palate of the newborn during the aqiqah.
In Sikh communities, the newborn is taken to a Gurudwara within forty days of birth where the Granthi (the priest) chants from the Guru Granth Sahib (a holy book). The family then chooses a name from the first letter of the hymn that is chanted by the priest. The name, so chosen, is announced by the family to the gathering, and then a halua is distributed among the gathering as celebratory treat.
All the communities ensure that the first food on the palate of their new born is sweet, believing that it sweetens the personality of the infant.
Throughout India, with its multicultural communities, the vast array of customs related to childbirth is as diverse as the customs themselves, and many involve food and song to help create a festive atmosphere while still holding on to the importance of bringing a new life into the world.