Context & Background:
Indian culture relies heavily on folklore. With so many diverse subcultures within the large country, many examples of folklore can be found getting passed on and creating new oikotypes. The informant, an old lady from Rajasthan (North India) and my late grandfather’s family friend, tells me about childbirth and one of the beliefs. This information got passed down to her from her grandmother. This text is translated from Hindi to English
Performance: (via phone call)
In India, whenever a child is born, for the first few weeks, we make the child wear old, used clothes that have been on the body of other children. We never clothe them in new clothes. The reason for this is because we believe that wearing older clothes gives the child good health, passing on the luck of the previous surviving baby. After the first few weeks, we can go and clothe them however we want, this tradition only goes on for the first few weeks.
I didn’t really know about this tradition, so I asked my parents if this ever happened to me. They told me that yes, I was given the clothes of my cousin, and my little brother took my clothes. I believe that this tradition and belief exist because child mortality rates were very high in the past. People had a lot of children, there were not any sophisticated medical options for many families, and I know that home births were common with the help of a midwife. The passing on of luck was needed to give hope to the mothers and families, and hence this tradition was probably born.