A child is a great gift from God as it is a common belief across themassive diverse societies of the world. It is also axiomatic that thebirth of children is the most crucial and momentous times for theparents, extended family members, neighbours and the community (Jakhu3). Parent`s expressions are typically filled with joy andthankfulness when they receive congratulatory wishes for a newborn.The family members and relatives relish the newborn with variouscelebration gifts depending on one`s cultural background (Bhrolchain267). I consider the events of my birth special apart from the rich,eventful practices performed after the ushering a newborn to theworld. In this piece of writing, I write the events that followed mybirth along with the coincidental functions that took place in theprovince, the nation and the whole world.
I am a Pakistan-born. The Muslim culture values baby births and holdssome unique rituals for birth events (Bhrolchain 267). My birth tookplace in an isolated house referred to as bashleni, in a citycalled Sialkot, the province of Punjab in Pakistan. My grandmotherimmediately bathed me after birth may be like any other baby. Shethen buried the placenta and other afterbirth substance right away asrecommended by the Islamic rules. Later after refreshing my motherfirst placed her nipple in my tiny mouth, my grandfather gave outgifts to my father`s sisters in alignment with the customrequirement. My father celebrated my birth with congratulatory wishesfrom his peers as he distributed small gift packages comprising ofsweets, laddo, and gajjar da halwa to thechildren in the neighbourhood.
The call of Aznaan, a Muslim prayer to infants, then greetedme. My right ear first received the sound of Kalimah, which isstill a prayer, followed by my left ear. The prayer was conducted thesoonest and for few minutes before other family rites. It wascustomary for my father to whisper the words, "In the nameAllah, the Creator, I declare you a Muslim“ because they function asthe pivot revolving around my life in our religious belief. It was,therefore, a symbolic significance at my birth. This exercise is anobligation and is a mandatory practice straight away after birth.After the prayers, my father tied Taweez around my new thinneck with much-accorded respect. Taweez is a black piece ofstring with a small pocket carrying a prayer, and it protects aperson ills of health and bad luck (Jakhu 6).
Our community elder Khawaja Akira, who happened to be the mostrespected person at that time, took honey on his finger spread itgently and directed it to my tiny palate to taste. This ritual isreferred to as Tahneek or Sunnat and was prescribed by ProphetMuhammad (Jakhu 10). The practice is meant to give out positiveattributes that transmit to hatchling self (Bhrolchain 267). Twobrothers to my father along with cousins distributed sweetmeats toeveryone they knew as a sign of happiness and a way of offering ourfamily felicitations. They extended the distribution of thesweetmeats to the poor as well. My name was announced and celebratedin agreement between my grandmother and my parents. They thengathered in a prayer dedicated to me asking for good health, joy andblessings.
On this very day, my aunt trimmed my hands and feet nails. She thengently shaved my scarce shiny black hair then weighed my body usingthe traditional weighing balance. My father prepared for Aqeeqa,an event where people express gratitude towards God for a child’sblessing. This part of the event involves finding two best sheep tofunction as a sacrifice (Jakhu 10). The uncooked sheep meat wasdivided into three parts one part was given to the family, anotherto the poor and the third part was given relatives and friends.During this function, relatives from sides, paternal and maternal,friends and neighbours brought all kinds of newborn gifts. Thesegifts comprised of baby basins, baby mat, drinking bottles, nappies,shawls, toys, cradle, and baby anointed oil, anointed perfumes, babypillows and money among others. This was a sign of officialinvitation to my family.
When I was born, the people of my province were celebrating theBasant Panchami also famously referred to as Basant Kite Festival. Myprovince vibrated with fairs and flying kites all over the place.Yellow flowers decorated many houses to sign the welcoming the newspring season that marks the end of the winter referred to as Sharadin Pakistan. Most of the kitchens boomed with the customary ricedishes colored with saffron. Almost all the people in the city woreyellow clothes for the festival. Some women dressed in yellowgarments swayed and sang on swings. My father was also in a MaryYellow colored turban headed for planting one of the flying kites onthe top of the gate that marked the entrance to our home. He alsoplanted the kites in the traditional areas of Kasur, Lahore, andAmritsar.
In a series that tends more of a strange coincidence, my nation wascelebrating the Kashmir Solidarity Day, which is normally the firstpublic holiday in the Pakistan`s calendar. On Kashmir day, thePakistanis showed support and accord to the families occupyingKashmir in the then ongoing freedom movement. Citizens paid homage tothe Kashmir martyrs who died while struggling in a fight forliberation. Special prayers and public processions endowed manymosques to mark the day of protest liberation against Indianoppressors. The broadcasting channels played songs and dramas as wellas held talk shows in commemoration. Soldiers matched in publicgrounds and people stood in rows with hands embraced creating a humanchain on all main passages into AJK from Pakistan.
I was born during the era of privatization and stagnation. On thisday, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq directed the economy of Pakistan. Thenation`s agricultural sector was nourishing. Bhutto undertook thecement and fertilizer investments contributing to significant levelsof industrial growth. Worker remittances rose to peak to a valueworth three billion U.S dollars and the economic activity trendedtremendously. The narcotic trade that had threatened the nation hadfaded in attribution to support from the economy sector. The foreignexchange obstacles had cleared. Pakistan was preparing to go for thegeneral elections. Stagnation was smoothening out while economicliberation and privatization were forcefully making their way(Charsley 48). With the recession, Pakistanexperienced both internal and external economic shocks but it was allright because I could barely feel myself or remember seeing anythingleave alone the honey that they had placed on my new tiny tongue.
When I was born, the world was busy celebrating the internationalkissing day that many countries observed. Somewhere around the globepeople wrapped kisses on their hands on transit for variousdeliveries. The students at the University of Agder represented theirhome countries on student exchange program (Charsley57). Somewhere, a couple was trying to break the previous records ofthe longest kiss. Maybe I should say that when I was sucking mymother`s breast for the first time, some people around the globe wereexchanging various ranges of bacteria through kissing.
All in all prayers and wishes did a large part of the occurrences ofmy birth. This custom is part of the Pakistan culture observed andpracticed by many Pakistanis during the birth of a child withoutgoing beyond any religious barriers. My family members were happy tousher me in the family. Ushering implied cleansing, shaving my hair,trimming the nails of the hands and feet, tasting honey and receivinggood words from God. Neighbours and the community at large celebratedwith the slaughter of sheep and prepared candies to mark my birth.Gifts equally endowed me in the midst of several celebrations andfestivals. In my opinion, many would concur that my birth wasspecial. It coincided with the Basant Kite Festival, which happens inmy province, Punjab, the Kashmir public holiday and the internationalkissing day along with an event at the University of Agder. Theserare events happen during a childbirth. What happened when I was bornremains special for the days that I live on this earth.
Bhrolchain, Cliona Ni. "Muslim BirthCustoms." Child: Care, Health andDevelopment (2012): 267. Print.
Charsley, Katharine. Transnational PakistaniConnections: Marrying ‘Back Home’. Routledge, 2013. Print.
Jakhu, Anita. "Culture, Customs andChildbirth Childbirth Customs Celebrated by Culturally DiverseCommunities." Journal of North-eastAsian Cultures (2011): 1-19. Print.