Nyambutin or Tiga Bulan Bali: Baby Rituals Around the World

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IMG_9709 “For baby Koming, this is the biggest ceremony of her life as it is the first time she touches the earth- imagine if every child began their life with as much respect for our mother earth? What an amazing world we would have!” – Ibu Robin Lim

I love learning about unique baby rituals from around the world. Balinese babies do not touch the mother earth for 105 days and the day they do is a sacred celebration. Our Eat Pray Doulas and I were honored to attend this special ceremony in the village of Nyuh Kuning as baby Koming Katya Dewi was born at Bumi Sehat Birth Center to parents that are an important part of the Bumi Sehat team. Baby Koming Katya Dewi is the 3rd daughter of Father Sandyasa. Sandyasa works at Bumi Sehat as one of the 3 executive directors. He manages the financial teaming, making sure the bills are paid and providing transparency with the accounts. Baby Koming Katya Dewi’s mother is Sutini, the receptionist for prenatal care nights. Sandyasa has been with Bumi Sehat since its conception.

Bumi Sehat is very special to me in so many ways…. In one way, as part of our IMBCI MotherBaby Network, demonstrating a model that offers love, dignity and compassion to every MotherBaby along with quality care, and in another way, such as today, I am invited to be a part of one of the Bumi Sehat family sacred celebrations. I am grateful for both ways and wish to share with you about a Balinese sacred baby ritual that I attended with the other doulas.

Bali is a island full of rituals. I have attended a baby naming ceremony before but today was my first Nyambutin or Tiga Bulan, which is the day that is considered the day the baby becomes part of the human race. Ibu Rob Lim explains in this passage from her Eat Pray Doula book

Eat_pray_Doula“Not until the Nyambutin or “Tiga Bulan” ceremony on the one hundred and fifth day of life, does a baby become part of the human race. Until then he or she still belongs to the Gods and Goddesses. The time prior to “Nyambutin” is considered a time of testing for the family, and the community. Will they be found worthy of this pure new being? No one would dare to raise his voice in argument or negativity when there is a new baby in the family. A community in strife would put the baby at risk.” – Robin Lim, Eat Pray Doula e-Book

Our festivities began when all our doulas were invited to Ibu Robin’s home to dress in traditional clothing similar to a sarong- the Kebaya. Robin shares, “The fabrics are batik, from Java and Madura islands. Some are handwoven, naturally dyed fabrics, made by the hands of Balinese women.” It is so special to see us all transform as we put on the beautiful Balinese clothes, the tight long skirts making us slow our steps.

IMG_9683Once ready we walked across the street to Sandyasa’s family compound- it was a beautiful day, hot and clear. Seeing so many people from the village and Bumi Sehat all busy preparing an incredible feast, creating offerings for the ceremony and blessings for the baby touches me in ways that words can’t explain. You can feel the care and love that goes into each aspect of preparing and the meaning that this day holds for baby Koming Katya Dewi and for all who love her.

Before long the feast begins. We all enjoy the many traditional dishes, spices, tastes and smells presented – my senses are heightened as I watch the preparations continue. Soon I hear a bell and I can see the priest has begun the ceremony. Without words people begin to gather and the women begin their blessings and offering. I don’t understand each aspect of the ceremony but you can feel how each part of the ritual has significance and is done with mindful intention. Here is a passage from Robin’s book to give you a sense….

IMG_9681“In a bowl of blessed water, with the onkara drawn inside of it, we placed two silver ankle bracelets with bells, two wrist bracelets, a gold ring and a silver amulet containing a piece of rice of each color; white, red, black and golden. Also inside the amulet were various lucky stones, and a piece of (baby’s) dried umbilical cord. In old Bali the family would have searched for a tiger’s tooth or a piece of tiger bone, to insure that the baby would not be eaten by tigers. Only thirty years earlier there were tigers in the monkey forest, near our home. As it is very doubtful that (Baby) could be eaten by tigers, which are now extinct in Bali, we were not too concerned that we did not have a tooth for his amulet.” Excerpt from Robin Lim’s Eat Pray Doula e-Book

The heat of the day is upon us and as I move to find shade, I don’t want to miss anything!

I don’t know how long the ceremony was as I lost track of time, it seemed to be just long enough to have the significance I thought it would, but luckily not too much longer as the hot sun was wilting me. I couldn’t help to reflect on the lack of ritual and blessings in my own culture and community. How would my community be different if we had ceremonies for babies and families that brought us together in this way?

What ceremonies and ritual blessing do you offer you baby’s in the first year? Please share with us here.


 

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To see and read more from Ibu Robin’s Books, and have option to purchase the Eat Pray Doula e-book, please visit Robin’s online book store.