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ANAHITA  February 1998

ANAHITA February 1998

Subject:

Rebirth ceremonies during pregnancy

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 3 Feb 1998 17:17:36 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (48 lines)

This falls somewhere between asking an idle question & striving for the
greater edification of all.

I was searching for something else in Carol Laderman's _Wives & Midwives:
Childbirth and Nutrition in Rural Malaysia_.   My question arises from
_lepas_, an action in a rebirth ritual done usually during the 7th month of a
first pregnancy.  The Islamic Office of Religious Affairs has censured the
ceremony, so it is not Moslem.

The traditional midwife passes a loop of raw cord over the young woman, from
head to foot, (seemingly, usually while her mother is present).  This cord
looks, to me, something like the cord of the twice-born, worn by upper caste
Hindu men.  (I'm just making the association myself, visually, from the photo
& because of the West Malaysian legacy of Hindu/Indian Muslim culture.)  The
cord is from the _keras_, a plate with coins, rice, a coconut which stands in
for the pregnant uterus.  The cord, looped around the coconut, symbolizes the
umbillical cord, among other things.

If the first child is stillborn, the rebirth ceremony is repeated in the
subsequent pregnancy.

A different kind & color of cord is used in other healing/rebirth rituals,
such as one for a failing infant.

Now, this ceremony makes brilliant sense, but I do not remember coming across
anything like it before.  I cannot think of anything in the Jewish or Classic
literature, off the top of my head.  This lack of information about ceremonies
of womanhood is just so downright aggravating. (No kidding!)

So, just as a matter of curiousity: does anyone know of other rebirth
ceremonies performed during pregnancy?

Sheila Shiki y Michaels

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Diotima's address: http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/gender.html

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