The birthing ceremonies of the Indian culture has a lot of different aspects then the American culture does. I guess that is why they are different cultures. All cultures have different views on different things such as religion, but they also share the same as well for example every culture has some form of the family. This is what helps most cultures understand other cultures. In the Indian culture their view of bringing a child into the world is much different then the American culture's view.
In the Indian culture there are a lot of preparations that go into getting the parents and the community ready for the new member. Their culture does more work with the child before they are even born. First of all plans are made for them so they know who is going to be there to witness the child being born into their society. They are usually the grandparents, the representatives, and the Godparents that were selected by the parents and the representatives. The mother is to keep on working as she did before the baby is born. They say that this shows the child the importance of work in their culture. During the pregnancy, around the seventh month, the mother introduces the baby to the natural world. She does this by taking walks in the fields and over the hills. They believe that the baby is consciously taking all of this in to prepare him/her for life within that culture.
When the baby is born none of the mothers children should be around. The only people there are the ones that were chosen by the representatives and the parents. If someone can not make it then someone will have to fill in for them. The only people besides children who are not allowed to see are the single women. The only way that they can attend is if there is no one else to go. There has to be three couples at the birth of the child, the child doesn't just belong to the parents but to the community as well. It is considered to be a scandal if an Indian women goes to a hospital to have a baby.
For the mothers other children there are not to know where or how the baby is born. Only the three couples know where the child is born. The children are told that a baby has arrived and they can not see their mother for eight days. After the baby is born the placenta has to be burned at a certain time. If the baby was born at night then it is burned at eight in the morning and if the baby is born in the afternoon then it will be burned at five in the afternoon. It is usually burnt on a log and the ashes are just left there. They will not bury it because they believe that the Earth is the mother and father to all children, and the Earth must not have it abused by burying it in the ground.
During the pregnancy, seeing how the mother has no time to relax, they take these steam baths. In an adobe hut there is a stove, called a temascal , which is were the placenta can be burned also, which produces steam that is supposed to calm the women down. This stove is made of stone. The stones are heated up and then the door is shut and then cold water is poured on the rocks and this makes steam. This is said to prevent the mother from having a miscarriage. A lot of times they add Herb's and leaves to the bath which helps them relax as well as supply them with nutrients. The mother usually takes this after work so that she can sleep and get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
The purity of the child is protected after birth for eight days. The newborn baby is alone with its mother for these eight days. None of the other children can see the child for this time frame. The mothers only visitors are the people who bring her food. This time frame is the baby integration into the family.
When the child is born they kill a sheep and there is a little fiesta just for the family. The neighbors start coming to visit and bring gifts. the gifts they bring are usually food for the mother, or something for the baby. The mother has to taste all of the food that is brought to her, that is to show her appreciation for their kindness.
After the eight days are over the family counts up how many visitors the mother had, and how many presents were received. The normal gifts are eggs, clothing, small animals, wood for the fire, and services like carrying water and chopping wood. If a lot of the community calls or visits, this shows how the child will grow up and have a lot of responsibility. After the eight days another animal is killed to show that the child's right to be alone with his mother is over. All of the clothes and sheets that she used during the birth are taken to the river to be washed, no matter how far away it is.
After the baby is born they are given a small bag with a little garlic, lime, salt, and tobacco. This is to ward off all of the evil spirits. When the child reaches forty days old there are speeches and promises on his behalf, this is his baptism. At around ten years old the parents and the leaders talk to them again. They tell them that they must never abuse their dignity. They also remind them about the ancestors who were dishonored by the white man. They also make sure they remind them to respect their elders, and also pregnant women.
There is a difference in ceremonies for the two different genders. For instance when a girl is born there aren't nearly as many celebrations as there are for a boy. They say this is because of all the hard work and responsibilities he will have as an adult. The girls ears are pierced at the same time they cut the umbilical cord. Also the male child is given an extra day with his mother. All of this doesn't mean girls aren't valued their work is hard to and there are certain things due to them as a mother. They place gender roles kind of like we used to with the women staying home and taking care of the kids and the man earning a living for his family.
Our culture has many different characteristics then the Indian culture in the way of giving birth and raising children. In the Indian culture they consider the baby owned by the community as well as by the parents, and in ours they only belong to the parents. Unless they are proven to be unfit parents the child belongs to the state. Also in their culture they make sure there are three couples there to receive the child while it is being delivered. This is different then our custom where the only one allowed to watch is the father of the child. In their culture after the birth the mother and the child are hidden away and pretty much left alone for eight or nine days depending if its a boy or a girl. This is the time in our culture where the mother and child are being seen by family and friends. Also for their culture the mother is pushed on to continue to work as she was before where as for ours we encourage the mother to take it easy and in some cases to stay off her feet even. Another thing is that they don't allow women to give birth in a hospital because it is considered to be degrading. In our culture most women try to have their babies in a hospital, but some can't help but having them in different places like a car, plane, or a boat.
The next story that I read had to deal with the initiation of a warrior. The way you are initiated is by through circumcision. This is done by using a sharp knife to cut the skin in the most sensitive part of your body. There are requirements that you must follow like you can't budge, move a muscle or even blink. You can only face one direction. The slightest movement on your part means you are a coward and unworthy to be a Maasia man. When they are circumcised they have entered adulthood. If you are not brave during the procedure then there are consequences like the families herd will be beaten until they stampede away, all of the slaughtered oxen and honey beer will go to waste, his food would be spit on and he would be expected to eat it or else he would get a severe beating. He will also be called the knife kicker which is an insult.
When it becomes time for the ceremony they pour ice cold water over his head. After he is done shaking he is told to sit down. Then a large crowd of boys and men form a semi-circle in front of the him, women are not allowed to watch. Next the circumciser appears and grabs the knifes, which have been guarded by the boy. Next he spreads the boys legs and announces "One Cut" this is so the boy can not say he was caught off guard. Then a white paint is splashed in the boys face, and this is where it begins. After the cutting is over with he calls for milk so he can wash the knives.
There is a lot of blood lost during this so it takes a while for them to recuperate from this. After they are able to walk and do stuff again they join other newly circumcised boys. During recuperation they are protected from the cold and the rain. They are not allowed to even touch their food because they are considered to be unclean instead they are given these special sticks to eat with. When they are healed their heads are shaved and the black cloaks are thrown away, this is when they are considered to be Maasia warriors.
In our society most children are circumcised when they are born with some exceptions, but the parents are given the choice after they are born. In our society you wouldn't be considered to be any less of a man if this was done to you and you screamed in pain. in our culture we don't put that much into our ceremonies as they do and also tradition doesn't play that big of a role in our society.
The next story is about the same operation but on a women. This is common in the middle east. The belief is that by removing parts of the girls genitals the sexual desire is minimized therefore preserving their virginity until they are married. This is a high risk procedure meaning there have been a few deaths related to this being done. Unlike the last story women are allowed to kick and scream as much as they want, or at least try because there are women holding down each limb which makes it hard to move. A lot of women who have had this done say they had the feelings before it was done but now they weren't as strong as they were before. This procedure can cause long term effects on a women psychological as well as physical.
This almost never happens in our society unless it is absolutely necessary , but I guess that is because virginity is taken lightly and not considered sacred in our society. I would hope that after a while these societies will stop this procedure but until then they will continue to do it. This culture believes that virginity is more important for a woman then a man. This is like our society where your manliness is ranked by how many women you sleep with, but for women they are called sluts if they sleep with more men then someone else did. In our society I believe we want to treat everyone the same but to me it doesn't seem like we are doing a very good job of it.
My next story is about another initiation but this is into a tribe of headhunters. The test began when they had him lay down in a pit of carnivorous ants. He had to lay there until they gave him a signal to get up because it was over. The test doesn't stop there next was he had to go into the woods without any weapons or food and survive for three days and nights while three headhunters are hunting you down. If you fail this part of the test then they do a ritual using your head, but if you pass you are finally allowed to join them as headhunters.
They apply gender roles kind of like we did. The male has to be strong and not a coward whereas the female is dependent on the male. In our society we have a lot of initiations that go on like for clubs, sorority, fraternity, but none of them are usually this much based on courage most of them are based on embarrassing you. I think that these four stories show you how your society is not the only one and also it is not the best but just different from all of the others.
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/coursework/the-difference-in-cultures.php