August 2, 2010

Central Asian Baby Party

Because I am lazy and it is late I am going to write this only in English. And I just added Google translation button on my page, so my family and relatives can read everything they want in they native tongue in a click of a mouse! (Hei perhe, napsauttakaa käännösnappia tuolta sivun laidasta niin saatte lukea tämän suomeksi!)

Last Sunday I went visiting. Sunday is a very common visiting day. People work the whole week and many are free on Sundays. So as a family we have decided to keep our Sundays free of any activities, and almoust always there is something going on in the neighborhood or among our friends. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, circumcision celebrations, special meetings where a blessing is asked from God for certain things, baby parties, you name it!

This time it was a combination of a baby party and his grandma's 50th.

Baby parties in Central Asia are celebrated before the first birthday. I have been to one where the baby was 4 months old, and this time the baby was 7 months old. We arrived at lunch time and sat around a full table cloth. This baby is the first grand child from both sides. The little family lives with the baby's father's family, as it is habit here. Men had been visiting in the morning at 8 and had hot soup and Central Asian national food, Osh (see recipe here). Women had fruit, sweets, cake, bread, savory pastries filled with meat, fat and onions, and of course Osh. A religious leader (a man for men, a woman for women) will read the Koran and chant during the meal.

The celebration is called "Cradle Party" in local languages. Maternal grandparents buy a cradle for the baby and it is brought into the house in this special party. Central Asian cradle is very different from the cradles in the West. Cradle is low and there are no edges, but there are curtains to cover it. Baby lays on his back on soft mattresses filled with local cotton. The mattress has a hole where the little bottom lays. Underneath the cradle is a small special dish that collects the, you know, whatever the little bottom produces. It is like a canalization. The sewage system. You get the point. The baby is wrapped into the cradle with long pieces of cotton, and cannot fall out or wriggle so that the bottom would move into a wrong place.

Here a relative boy is opening the curtains and you get a little peek inside. It must be really comfortable to sleep in the dimness of the thick curtains! The cradle rocks, and often mommies even nurse while baby is lying in the cradle.

Every guest brings a present and hand it for the family at arrival. At the end of meal the table cloth with food is cleaned away, and the presents are brought in on nice trays, neatly arranged by categories. Ladies who present the gifts say aloud what has been brought. "Here we have sweaters. Here are pants and jeans. Here is a football outfit. Here are the shoes...etc. " and lay the items on the carpet for everyone to see.

At the end the whole floor is filled with presents. Most of the clothing and shoes are the size for a one to two year old. The baby also gets mattresses to sleep on and towels and sheets, diapers, lotions, shampoos, anything you might think a baby would need. Nowadays an important item is a baby stroller. It was brought in for everyone to see, but it was too big to stay in the room. This baby also got tricycles, little car carts, a rocking horse, a huge teddy bear and other big toys.

At the very end there was a prayer for the baby and the family.
People pray holding their hands up, palms upward. One person, usually the oldest, or this time the religious leader, prays aloud.

At the end they all say Omen, and lift their hands to wipe their faces, to 'receive the blessing that flowed form heaven'.

When we came outside we got to see the baby in his mom's arms. He was born prematurely, so it was nice to see that he had gotten big and strong. In the background you can see some of the toys he received.
(I chose this picture where the baby is covering his mom's face on purpose. I did not want to publish her picture here).

May God Bless Him and His Family!

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