Aunties In My Big Fat Indian (And Hindu) Community Are Way Too Involved With My Pregnancy

benditliketumblrI have to remind myself that there are busybodies in any culture, but being pregnant and dealing with the superstitious Aunties in my big fat Indian (and Hindu) community is sometimes more than even I can bear.

I don’t mind the gender predictions – they’re harmless. According to my grandmother, if I suffer from acne or if I crave savory foods (yes and yes), then I’m going to have a girl. I wish my face didn’t have to be examined at every family gathering but it’s easy to shake off superstitions that have no basis in reality.

My mom is queen of the superstitions that impede on my lifestyle. Like the fact that I’m not allowed to cut my hair in case it shortens the lifespan of the baby. I’m pretty sure some obnoxious guy with a long hair fetish came up with that one.

Then there’s my mom’s aversion to The Walking Dead. Indians believe that watching something gross will result in a deformed baby. If I watch zombies, apparently I’ll birth a zombie. The converse of this is that I’m supposed to look at photos of beautiful babies so that I’ll have a beautiful baby. But the thought of inflicting cutesy Anne Geddes babies on myself is enough to bring my morning sickness back.

Then there’s my mother’s sister, who had a dream last week that she was performing a seemantham for me to celebrate and welcome my baby into the world. After she woke up she called my mom and kept grilling her about me possibly being pregnant but fortunately mom kept mum. I’m actually looking forward to the ceremony, which basically involves all the Aunties showering me with sweet and savory food, clothing, and blessings. But my nosy aunt can keep her dreams to herself!

My aunt also cautioned my mom not to buy anything for the baby before it’s born as it’s bad luck. Since I’ve suffered from a miscarriage before, I guess I don’t mind this superstition, because it feels a little bit like jinxing myself, especially in my first trimester.

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  • Eve Vawter

    I love this all too much!

    • EX

      I like this writer, Eve. Can we keep her?

    • JLH1986

      I second this motion!

    • Frances Locke

      I third this motion! Can we keep her Eve? Pleaseeeee!

    • MammaSweetpea

      I fourth it!! We promise to take care of her! Pretty please!!!

  • Maria Guido

    I so relate to this. My Greek mom insisted that when you are pregnant with a girl she sucks all of the beauty out of you – which is a nice way of saying ‘you look like crap.’

    • Eve Vawter


    • Diya Naidu

      I guess we were born into those cultures where it’s the norm to state your mind without a filter… Does your mom comment on your weight like mine does? :D

    • Maria Guido
    • Diya Naidu

      OK, we have a LOT in common :)

    • personal

      The Germans say this, too. :)

  • EX

    This was a very sweet (and well written) post. Congratulations on your pregnancy and good luck!

  • alice

    oh no, is Vedic Chant auntie gonna stake claim on your unborn? that would freak me out.

    congrats on your pregnancy!

    • EcnoTheNeato

      Since the timing is very succinct, it’s easily able to be explained as 2 days BEFORE the chant, instead of 2 days after. A lie? Sure. But also a nice way of saying, “Thanks for caring, but this baby is a result of ME AND MY HUSBAND. You can care for them when they get here, not before…”

  • chickadee

    I’m kind of jealous. I was on the other side of the country from my family, adjusting to yet another Army base when I was pregnant.

    Good luck with your pregnancy and baby. And family who will want to grab away your baby as soon as it shows up….

  • Zettai

    This was really interesting look into you as a person and into your culture. As a reader we got to know both in two pages. I hope to see more of your articles.

  • Ptownsteveschick

    I loved this article! Totally interesting, funny and insightful. I definitely would like to read more about your pregnancy!

  • Julia Sonenshein

    Love this. I admire your patience!

  • Himani

    My family is of Indian descent thru Trinidad… I feel for you! I’ve heard ever cockamaney old wives tale out of them. My grandmother FREAKED when I cut 15 inches of hair off my head. Never mind that it was going to be made into a wig for a child with Cancer… To this day she claims THAT’S why my older son was in the NICU for a few days. Not because he had respiratory issues, but my evil haircut did it.

    • Diya Naidu

      Oh that’s awful! And there’s no talking her out of that assumption I’m sure. I hope all is well for you!

    • Frances Locke

      My sister’s ex-husband is Trini and that sounds exactly like his mom! She’s a wonderful lady, but she stressed my sister out constantly with the same kind of superstitions during her pregnancy. Thankfully my (former, but still friendly with all of us) BIL didn’t subscribe to the same ideas and was a great mediator, but my sister would’ve gone nuts!

  • Frances Locke

    I loved this piece So funny and well written. I hope we will see more from Diya.

  • Diya Naidu

    You are all very sweet. Thank you for the kind feedback!

  • Litterboxjen

    I’ve heard a lot of superstitions about predicting gender and what girl babies do to you vs. boy babies, but some of these are definitely new to me.

    If it’s any help/consolation, my aunt-in-law asked me if I’d done the “wedding ring test” over my belly (apparently the direction it circles when suspended from a chain tells you what you’re having), and kept telling me that her daughter-in-law had been told she was going to have a girl, then found out later it was a boy and the DIL was devastated.

    Sure, once it’s an amusing? anecdote, but two or more times? Sorry, but science confirmed twice that she was a girl, and I don’t care what the other crazy notions predict.

    Another aunt-in-law was asking my DH when we were going to have a baby – not if, but when. Since he was visiting in part to tell his parents I was pregnant (though early, like 8 or 9 weeks, so they were asked not to share), that was annoying and frustrating. They’re not the only ones who’ve asked in the last while WHEN we’re going to have a second one. Apparently my uterus is obligated to contribute to this overstuffed family tree.

    (Also most of them are French Canadian/FrancoOntarian, so I think it fits in to the culture).

    PS, is it just me is being asked where the baby was conceived (i.e., was it while you were on vacation in this place?) or if the baby was planned really gross and intrusive? My mom says the second is common and acceptable, but I just can’t help but think it’s gross and absolutely no one’s business.

    • EX

      My mother did some crazy fortune telling thing that told her I was going to have twins. Despite being well into my third trimester and with multiple ultrasounds under my belt she still asks if I’m sure it’s really just one.

    • ElleJai

      Maybe she’s predicted the next pregnancy by accident ;)

    • Surly Canuck

      Yeah, some of the questions people ask are kind of weird and intrusive. At thanksgiving, my aunt asked when we were going to make babies because no grandniece or nephew of hers was going to daycare and she needed time to settle her affairs before moving to Toronto. It was bizarre.

    • ElleJai

      Oh man, I’d kill for one of my aunt’s to do that! (I’ve even got one in mind) but there’s a nicer way you can follow. I believe it’s called “offering” instead of “insisting”…

    • Surly Canuck

      Yeah, it’s a very sweet offer, and I’m grateful that she wants to be involved (plus she’s worked in childcare for 30 years), but it isn’t really feasible and put us in the awkward position of justifying our finances/life choices. Then my mom was getting irritated/jealous of her sister raising her hypothetical grandkid…

    • Andy

      You want weird and intrusive? My grandmother (aka Marie Barone with a Southern accent) wanted to know how many stitches I got down there with the birth of my daughter over three years ago. I had a C-section by choice with my son two months ago due to said stitches, so yeah, not something I want to discuss. Ever.

    • Surly Canuck

      What? But that’s vital information for the family bible. Think of your legacy. =)

    • Himani

      My intrusive encounter was with my husband’s step-dad’s mother, who called to ask me how my cervix was feeling…
      Fucking bananas.

  • jendra_berri

    I’ve never heard of any of these! How interesting! And my goodness, how nosy ;)
    Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  • Rachel Sea

    My big fat Jewish family is the same. We never do baby showers, because god gets his rocks off screwing with the Jews, and you don’t tempt him. What does the baby even need in the first 8 days that the grandmas (who need to show up before the birth certificate is filled out so they can bicker over the name) can’t bring?

    None of them believe that prayer will get you anything, but they all think that not praying, and not going to temple is tempting god.

    Luckily none of them expect me and my “friend” to have babies, so none of them have been butting in over my continued lack of pregnancy. Marrying a woman was probably too big a temptation for god anyway.

    • Frances Locke

      You just described the Jewish side of my family perfectly.

  • WinWin

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!
    I am Indian too and I think I had more trouble with the traditions and superstitions AFTER pregnancy more than before. There was this whole thing about special diet which included onion and garlic fried rice. I hated every dish my mom suggested. I even started to Google the ingredients to prove to her that it does not help a breastfeeding mom in any way :) And of course, EVERY aunt I spoke to had to have an in depth conversation about my struggles with breastfeeding. Privacy anyone?

    • MammaSweetpea

      I think that was my biggest pet peeve after having my kids. People would come to visit me in the hospital, and one of the first questions was “How is the breastfeeding?” or ” Are you breastfeeding?” I’ve just been cut open and re-attached, don’t ask me any effin’ questions, except “How are you” or “What can I do for you?”

    • Litterboxjen

      There’s a great lactaction oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe out on the web. That was my go-to for food when I was bfing. That and oatmeal for breakfast every day — that said, I like oatmeal, and I love oatmeal cookies, so they weren’t tough for me to eat. For someone who hated oatmeal? No good.

  • Belle

    I laughed so much at this, DH family is Indian and when I was pregnant the involvement of various relatives was such a culture shock to me, brought back lots of memories.

  • Jess

    My family is Chinese and Buddhist and my husband’s family is Vietnamese and Catholic.
    But it’s all the same kind of batshit crazy either way!
    My sister’s MIL told her to stare at her husband more so the baby will look like him.
    My MIL told me that the reason we’re not concieving is because I am not praying hard enough (probably not the best to tell the extremely Catholic woman the reason we are not pregnant was because I was taking the pill… haha).
    We are hoping to have a baby late next year- but my mother insists if we do we need to concieve at a certain time as my zodiac year will clash with the baby’s zodiac and we have to squash out any bad zen/fengshui/mahjong blah blah blah.
    After the baby is born they all agree to the one month confinement. So mother and baby stay home and cannot eat cold foods, hot and spicy goods or caffeine and alcohol. So that’s pretty much one month of rice and soy sauce!

    • ElleJai

      I got in serious trouble from the Indian chef at my favourite café for taking my baby out before one month, but I was GOING MENTAL. There was zero chance I’d be able to do that so I got my doctor to sign off on going out and went.

      In point of fact, my psychologist told me to get out of the house at least twice a week for my mental health, so if my family tried insisting on it (one or two TRIED) I read them the riot act and went out anyway. Sorry, but my doctor trumps your superstition.

      As far as everything else, have you heard the one about not washing your hair f or a month so it won’t all fall out? No decent food, stinking, and shut inside. How did women cope with this back in the day?!

    • m

      My husband is Chinese and he also seems to believe in some of the superstitions like telling me not to eat cold food during my period. And the one with the clashing zodiacs, which is good for me because next year is my zodiac year and I don’t wanna have a baby yet, lol.

  • MammaSweetpea

    First off, let me say that I like it when we hear mommy stories from women of different cultures. It’s very enlightening to see the differences and similarities around the world.
    Second…old school Jamaican grannies and aunties seem to be cut from similar cloth as Indian women. But to make it more awesome, the insanity continues after the baby is born! Don’t cut a baby boy’s hair before he can talk. If you do, he’ll stutter. WT….
    No formula. It must be breast milk or oats porridge (slightly watered down so it barely makes I through the nipple on the bottle!)
    I was born and raised far from such nonsense, so when some of my old school in-laws came at me with it, I just smiled sweetly and went on doing my own thing.

  • Daisy

    My best friend is Sri Lankan, and getting married in December. She is getting all the same stuff from her mom and aunties about the wedding, and she assures me that the minute she says “I do,” the aunties will start in on the baby stuff! So I sympathize as much as I possibly can without having experienced it firsthand! Good luck <3
    (On the other hand, Sri Lankan women are also famous for copiously forcefeeding guests. I get it from my friend's mom all the time, and I am REALLY looking forward to going to Sri Lanka and having ALL the aunties and grandmas feeding me Sri Lankan food. Does it make me a bad friend if I'm willing to forgive them for being nosy and intrusive to my best friend, just because they will feed me?)

    • Diya Naidu

      You’re not a bad friend. Aunty food is the silver lining of nosy intrusiveness! Eat away.

    • Rachelle

      Damn… Now I want an Indian or Sri Lankan auntie… Feeeeed meeee!

  • personal

    Loved this! Congratulations to you!

  • Alex Lee

    “If I watch zombies, apparently I’ll birth a zombie.”

    You now have my complete and undivided attention.

    • EcnoTheNeato

      I’ll get my girl to watch nothing but Marvel Movies and hope…

  • Neha

    South indian superstitions are the worst! My family are Telugu as well (mix of Andhra/Tamilnadu) and my extended family (great aunts/uncles etc) have so many silly beliefs etc they try to impart on me. I dread to think about the day I get pregnant, though I think they will already feel I have broken convention (my FI is English and we are both non-religious!), so hopefully none of that nonsense will happen to me.
    What I’m worried about is some people in my family will insist on having that horrible ‘coming out’ ceremony if we have a daughter once she reaches menarche. Mine was seriously humiliating, I HATED people knowing that I started menstruating (I was only 10 damnit!). If they think that is happening, they can think again!

  • Rachelle

    Love this post. My typical French Canadian and American families seem quite nonchalant compared to your families! Then again, if my grandmother was still alive, I might have had some great nuggets of randomness, but…

    May she enjoy watching me figure it all out from her berry fields up there somewhere.

  • aliceblue

    Definitely avoid the Anne Geddes or you might give birth to a tulip instead of a kid.

  • Alexandra

    I had to miss a funeral because I’m pregnant and the evil spirits can get into a baby at the cemetery. Sooooo I can relate!!!

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