Srivaishnavam Practices Essence
Seemantham (seemandham)
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Seemandam - Seemantham - Seemandham. Pumsavana - Seemantham

TRS Iyengar

In the Srivaishnava Tradition, one of the important function is known as Seemantham or Bhumsavana Seemantham during the 8th month of pregnancy of a woman. Though, in the olden days, this auspicious seemandham was celebrated for each issue, nowadays, this is just simply performed only for first issue. Prior to this 8th month function, they used to perform a function namely "Poochoottal" meaning decorating the pregnant would be mother with floral decorations; this function would be attended by a large gathering of women, who too would be offered all the auspicious items viz. Bangles, (of course, glass or plastic made only!), Haldi, Kum Kum and flowers with betel leaves & nuts. The timing of this Poochoottal functions varies from family to family, some performing on the 4th month and some on the 6th month and a few conducting on the day prior to Seemantham.


I am not elaborating the Mantra part of the function. But only giving the inner meaning of the function and its values. This specific function is supposed for each issue and pregnancy, but the cost involvement and time constraints made the generation only to carry out this Seemantham for the first issue. There are indications that this was solemnized for every pregnancy and issue in the olden days.

Now let us see the importance and significance of this Seemandam function. From the day of formation in the mother's womb, a child grows in different steps, each within a stipulated time frame. According to the Vedic scripts, the birth and death is a pre-planned one by the almighty. And as pre-planned, the child grows in a way that is linked to many factors, which include a genetically considered factors. I.e. the child should have the nose like so and so, brain and intelligence like father or mother or even great grand father, height and weight of the child at birth and even its future growth plans that are stored into the genetic chip! (Oh, do we call this as fate? Or pre-written on the forehead? Or the Creator's command?) Accordingly, though brain formation takes much earlier, the memory cells are said to begin its activities on the completion of full seven months of pregnancy. Then onwards, a child can record the sounds and vibrations from the surroundings and hears every spell around it. 

The word seemandham or Seemantham literally means the hair parting just above the eye brow. It is said that the Goddess of Wealth, Sri Mahalakshmi resides in that parting. This is one more reason to mention why the practice of applying Kumkum on the parting, as a manner of propitiating Goddess Sri Lakshmi. And when a woman delivers a child, she is considered the embodiment of Goddess Lakshmi Herself.
 
There has been one underlying commonality amidst most pregnant women in India. Mostly, all the pregnant women as well as the entire family expects a male child, the first born to be a son. This tendency is such, it is commonly the one bothering the entire nation. And the climate is such, the psyche is yet unresolvable one till date. May be, the younger generation today are learning a bit to value a beautiful healthy baby for itself-and wish for only health and happiness for the child no matter what the gender is. And value the little baby girl who will, after all be the mother of future generations!

So as to format the brain in a fittest condition, they used to perform Vedic recitals of relics and verses named "Udhagasanthi" or "Uthakashanthi" Japam, a soft but powerful mantra recital for about 1 and half hour. This they do by keeping a copper or brass vessel known as Kumbam in which fesh water is poured in, a bunch of mango leaves kept with a coconut covering it and also a bunch of Holy Grass known as Dharbam  inserted. It is believed, that a kind of aquatic vibration that is caused during the Vedic Recital and chanting, this holy grass absorbing the vibration and transmits it to the water in the vessel. The water in the vessel gets a highest value, a combination of phonetic + aquatic vibration. Added to this, a sort of scented items to add value, they used to put the powder of Cardamom, Clove, Benzene, Saffron, Jatfal etc. to add taste and flavor!
  
This chanting of mantra is done at a pre-fixed Muhurtham known as auspicious time. Normally a day prior to the main function of Seemantham or in some cases done on the same day of Seemantham function, they arrange to perform and recite the Udhakashanthi Japam. Then immediately completing this Japam, they used bathe the pregnant woman with the said holy water. (Oh, in cold water, without mixing any warm or hot, the time might be even late in the evening (!) - the child in the womb shakes and jerks on this stimulation, that's felt by every seemandham adorned women!) This specific function of Japam is to give a solid state of mind for the child to be born, a positive vibration from the recited Mantras that give enough strength to the child in the womb, and create an atmosphere conducive to the earthly possessives on his/her birth! Yes, this much is practically carried out even today!


True, the phonetic vibrations caused during the chanting cannot just be ignored as rubbish. Each Vedic Mantra is of for a specific stimulation, the phonetic vibration has to attain its fullest value. To gain this specific value, for each function, they had discovered the merit of a specific recital. And the Udhakasanthi Japam too has its own potential values, in addition to giving confidence to the pregnant women. This also increases the mental strength of the would be mother, encouraging her with the system, with the supportive gathering members blessing the child and mother for a normal delivery. Also, during this function, the presentations given to the would be parents, just to meet the extra burden of bringing up a child! Gifts of valuables and cash would suffice for them to meet the demands!


Now, for the main function known as "seemandam" performed on a pre-fixed Muhurtham, an auspicious time is chosen to conduct this ritual. After the usual chores of house cleansing act known as punyavachanam and routine Agni Santhanam performance, the main function is held at the specified Muhurtham.


On this specific occasion, they used to grind the tender leaves of Banyan tree which is in its formation, mixed with raw cold milk and make it to a paste. (This banyan leaves should be of fresh, tender in its cone shaped and not opened as a leave fully. At some places, they add a few fresh tender fig tree leaves to this). The grinding of these leaves is to be done by two young girls below the age of 9 years known as Kanya - to state, the young girls who have not attained the puberty stage} This concoction essence would then be dropped in the pregnant would be mother's right nostril just by dropping through a silk cloth and the mother to be is asked to inhale instantly. Once inhaled, then a needle/quill of porcupine animal is taken from the head downward the navel, just slightly touching/lightly scratching the body portion. 

It is believed, this supposed to make the marking line for the inhaled (the banyan leave juice + the cow's raw milk) gum to travel to the womb. At this junction, a specific mantra is recited, which makes the route to the tube perfect as the vibration + the porcupine quill acting as nodal guiding act. Thus the inhaled essence of milk and banyan leave juice, forms like a paste and straightly carried to her womb. Because of some unknown chemical proposition and the dirt gathered inside from her last menstrual course, this paste settles in the child's stem cell and surrounds, that begin from the naval part. This paste is gradually become like a protective mask for the stem cell tube and strengthens its tube bottom base. As long as in the womb, it settles there till the child is born. Once out in the open air, the same gum getting dried very quickly in the open air, thus causing easy and automatic separation of the stem cell tube from the naval portion! And mostly, no scissors used to cut the stem cells, if the seemandam was performed with authentic and ritual way! It is also widely believed that the above is symbolically cleaving the delivery passage to open for an easy downward movement of the child and for a normal delivery.
 

Followed by the Seemantham and dropping the Banyan leave essence, the function is carried on with Veena Recital, Carnatic & melodious songs and vocal songs. This is to give a strengthening bondage in an affirmative between the relatives visiting the function and the family that holds the function. Mainly, Veena is recited to give a calm & pleasant atmosphere. From this day, the pregnant woman is separated from her husband and she returns to her parents home for delivery. On bearing the child and issue, once she regains her health and vigor, then she is sent back to her husband's place i.e. after 3 or five months of gap after delivery! You'll get the details of this specific period gap given after delivery in my another article on Child Care & Motherhood.


Now a days, it has become a mere formality perform this ritual. Neither the learned scholars explain the reasons, nor the performing couples interested in knowing the details of facts. In some one's comments, it has just been made to show off their wealth by performing this function, rather than understanding the inner meaning and value of same. In rare cases, it has an opportunity from the groom's side to demand A silk sari, A silver vessel for punyavachanam etc. and makes the function as mockery and laughing stock!

Now, for the part of care to be taken by any pregnant woman:

Avoid stress; your stress and pain might put the pressure on the growing child in your womb. Listen to soft and classical music and fine Veena recitals. Be happy and smile all the time. This would help the child you carry to learn to be happy and steady in his/her life. It is called the actual molding period, that your personal mood elevations are practically carried to the child's future life on the earth! Have more calcium in your food, as the child absorbs the calcium from your own body to grow its bones and skull portion. If you are of nature lover, then you can surely take betel leaves with natural calcium rather than taking any artificial ones to give more value. To add value and color to the growing child, you must take extra care to avoid arguments and clashes with anyone. Control your temperament and do not cry at all. If it is possible to avail pure Saffron known as kum-kum flower(Kungukumapoo) (Kesar in Hindi), then have it with your daily intake of milk. This will avoid cough and plums forming in the chest of growing child in your womb. The more you are in a steady and mood and healthy note, you will deliver a healthy and normal child. If you are a person from a believers family, then you can also arrange to play some of the Vedic rhymes and versus for about an hour a day. Sleep well and work normally. Do not lie in bed than normal course. Be active all the time. By doing so, your muscles would expand to give a natural birth to the child. Avoid too much of fat & cholesterols in your food and instead add more green and fruits. Remember, an active and happy woman mostly delivers an healthy child in normal delivery.

In India, all the community people take much care with joy when they come to know a woman has conceived. As a precaution, pregnant women are not allowed to take much stress or exertions but normal day to day activities are allowed to carry out as usual. Pregnant women are not allowed to see the Ecliptic path during Solar or Lunar Eclipse (Surya - Chandra Grahanam). As per Vedic guidance, pregnant women should not see the eclipse part, nor come out in open during the time of Eclipse. This is just to avoid the child in womb getting affected by the radiation, which is said to cause damages to the child in womb. Hence, they were not allowed to move out during the Eclipse days and protected by remaining inside a room where the sun/moon rays are not directly passing through. Even the modern science tell us that the Ecliptic rays are not good for health. When a growing child's health is given importance, they take all sort of precautionary measures to avoid clashing with nature. If the Eclipse of Lunar or Solar taking place of the pregnant women's birth star, then they do all the sorts of Shanthis and Pariharam by offering wheat or Rice to a Brahmin to weed off the ill effects. The affected persons need to chant a verse during the course of Eclipse to avoid their contamination from the ill radiations.

There is a lot more to add to this subject with explanation giving step by step. This needs an elaborative listings, procedure and practices. However to make the point felt, I am giving only the very important rites that are most vital for the function. Shortly, I shall give you further info on the subject, with the requirement, timings and list of things one needed to have for this occasion.

Oh, once the main function is over, a grand traditional feast is served to all the visitors. The menu, simply a typical south Indian recipe and the combination is just equal to any marriage of south Indian Tamil Brahmin style feasts. (Kalyana sappadu!).

If anyone has any further information & knowledge over this specific function, please let me have the same for publication; I hope this would certainly help the younger & future generations to learn more about our rituals and practices which are of high value and traditions that comes with a hidden meaning to it!


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