Sunday, September 16, 2007

first birth ceremony: Sampling an island tradition

Vibrant tropical music and merry making filled the air as family members, relatives and clans of the Ngirutang family gathered to celebrate a delightful event at the seaside of Malakal on Saturday afternoon, an event which is one of the very unique Palauan traditions.

Clad in the traditional grass skirt and carrying a bouquet of flowers in her hand, Marcia Sayo Ngirutang, the mother of the baby patiently sat in front of the visitors at the makeshift stage as for the commemoration of the childbirth ceremony after the birth of her firstborn.
For the special ceremony, Marcia was rubbed one more time with the yellow ginger and coconut oil mixture before she was presented to the families and the public.

Food in abundance was distributed and drinks flowed freely to satisfy every one, followed by ritualistic introductions, dancing and feasting which extended for several hours.

In Palau, the birth of a first child is always regarded as a special time for every Palauan woman and the joyous event is celebrated by parents and families alike.
Before the new mother can be seen in public, she is required to traditionally undergo an intense cleansing process two to three months after giving birth. For four to ten days (depending on the clan tradition) the new mother is rubbed daily with turmeric, a yellow ginger root and coconut oils, massaged and bathed with steaming herbal leaves and plants. This cleansing process is intended to help the mother’s body and mind recover from giving birth and can also reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

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