The Seventh Month

The third trimester of pregnancy is marked by various ceremonies in tribes of Indonesia. It may be derived from old animistic rites before the coming of “imported” religions in the archipelago, either Hindu, Buddha, Islam, or Christianity. These ceremonies usually symbolize gratitude for the pregnancy, celebrate the upcoming new member in the family, a momentum to wish good health for the mother and child, and smooth delivery of the baby.

Why the third trimester? I am not sure but I guess because once the pregnancy reach the third trimester, the survival chance of the baby is higher. Perhaps it is also a chance to calm down and/or divert the nervousness of the pregnant women who are going to deliver really, really soon.

After the so-called imported religions are spread in Indonesia, these rites do not cease to exist, but woven into the religious traditions. For example, in Java, the Muslims do special Quranic readings to commemorate the seventh month of pregnancy, while the Christians hold masses for similar purpose. There is a recent tendency for Muslims to do the Quranic readings in the fourth month of pregnancy instead, because the Al-Qur’an says that is the moment when God puts in the soul for the baby. Meanwhile in Java, that used to be the stronghold of Hindu, the remnants of Hindu traditions intermingle with animistic rites and religion rituals.

In my dad’s Minangkabau tribe, the ceremony is conducted in the sixth month of pregnancy and called “membubur” (making porridge). The family of the pregnant mother will make porridge of rice, pumpkin, coconut sugar, and coconut; and deliver it to the extended family and neighbours. Meanwhile in my mom’s Sundanese tribe, it is called “nujuh bulanan” (the seventh month) and, as the name says, the ceremony is held on the seventh month of pregnancy. Nujuh bulanan is very similar with the Javanese “mitoni”, which will be explained in more details below.

Anyway. As my parents and I are not really into the hassles of doing traditional rites, we chose to do a Quranic reading. On the seventh month, not the fourth, for a practical reason: we had to do it in Yogyakarta, not Jakarta, and it’s way safer to fly in the seventh month of pregnancy than in the fourth. It was a simple ceremony attended by neighbours, family, and some of my parents’ friends. My dad opened the reading by thanking attendees, then me and mom read surah Luqman, a neighbour said a prayer for me and the baby (amened by the crowd), and then it was time to eat. A lot. Haha.

I chose surah Luqman because it mentioned the prophet’s advice for his children:

And, when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, “O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.”

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.

But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.

[And Luqman said], “O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.

O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.

And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.

And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.”

Sounds like a good advice.

The week after, in Jakarta, Yoga’s parents conducted the Javanese ceremony “mitoni“. It was not a full-fare mitoni ceremony, only attended by few members of family and neighbours, but it went like this:

  • Yoga’s parents and five close relatives and neighbours bathed me with water from seven springs that was infused with seven kinds of flowers.

  • I raised a clay jug and slammed it to the floor — the spout was intact and this was interpreted to mean my baby will be a boy (remember, this is a tradition rooted in days of no USG scans).
  • Yoga slides a chicken egg from my shoulder to my belly (it tickled) and let it fall to the floor.
  • I had to don seven sets of batik cloth and shawl, one set of a time, of course, not all seven layers at once πŸ˜€ The invitees will be asked by the whether the combination is good enough or not and they should always say together and loudly that it is not. Only at the last set, the crowd loudly say β€œYes, it’s good.”
  • A yarn encircled my belly, then Yoga cut it, symbolizing that all obstacles faced by the family have been cut.
  • Two ivory coconuts — one carved with Kamajaya (a Javanese rendering of Kamadeva from the original Hindu version) drawing and another with Kamaratih (Rati) — were pushed down through the last batik cloth I wore loosely (otherwise there would be no way for the coconuts to fall).
  • Yoga slashed open the Kamajaya coconut.

It was unexpectedly fun, although being wet in breezy weather was not really that comfortable XD

That night ended with a mass in Yoga’s parents’ house, serviced by the same father who interviewed us before marriage and who also gave the mass right before our marriage.

To add all the excitement above, my friends gave a surprise baby shower just last weekend. Yoga took me to shop some groceries and when we returned, dripping wet due to the sudden rainfall, the house was already decorated with cute clothes and cake pops and lots of food! There was also voices of a baby but nobody was seen from where I stood, at the door. I was taken aback and froze at the door. One of my neighbours have a baby so perhaps I entered the wrong house…

But then my friends burst out of the bedroom and said, “Surprise!” πŸ˜€ I laughed happily and told them to wait — I had to change my clothes and dry myself first before hugging them one by one. It was really sweet. Apparently they conspire with Yoga to prepare the event, even creating a WhatsApp group for the sake of it. Btw, the baby voice came from Nila’s daughter, Lofa.

Nila brought her amazingly cute and delicious cake pops, We Pops, and traditional Bugis dish nasu liko chicken. Muno brought her yummy authentic Palembang pempek, Pempek Musi Duo. Fame of the cut lots of dragon fruits and pears. Yoga made Vietnamese spring rolls. I… well, I ate and laugh a lot. It was such a happy day, ended with playing monopoly until two of us went bankrupt — I won and it made me think that perhaps I’d make a good capitalist after all. Kidding.

So. Just a few more weeks to go, baby!

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  1. Novaty Eny Dungga

    Sangat sarat makna, dan informasi yang sangat bermanfaat. Selamat buat ananda Bunga dan Yoga. Semoga Ibu dan anak yang dikandung selalu dalam lindungan Allah SWT. Juga buat nini Reny dan Aki Rizal.l

  2. can’t wait to meet the baby kak Bunga. Semoga sehat selalu yaaaa

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