“The magic thing about home is it feels good to leave and it feels even better to come back.” -Wendy Wunder
Seven years ago, I packed a small carry-on suitcase with a few essentials and ran away from my home in pursuit of something… unknown. It was a difficult period in my life plagued by many disappointments. Uncertainty lurked around every corner and in many ways, I was naive to the possibilities. I was cracked but not yet broken and I had faith in the future that awaited me. Sometimes you have to believe in something bigger than yourself… even when the odds feel stacked against you. The weeks and months that followed proved to be transformational, to say the least. There were days when I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and admit defeat, but something inside me kept going, pushing me to knock down walls I’d inadvertently built and build bridges wherever water had run over, until a more authentic, resilient version of myself emerged from the rubble. It’s hard to imagine but, there’s more room in my heart now than ever before and, the right people… my people!… have found their way back into my life!
Life is changing again… and this time, instead of running away, I’m running towards it with arms wide open. Going back home has never felt more special as it did this past weekend. Even though the trip was short, I was able to spend quality time with those that truly mattered to me. I will never forget the look of joy on my father’s face when he saw my pregnant belly or the wide eyed amazement of my little niece and nephew when they felt the baby kick! Seeing my loved ones all gathered together to celebrate the new life growing inside me, supporting me and my partner through this journey, showering us with blessings, was beyond anything I could’ve ever asked for. Such community and strength is what propels us forward as human beings…
Here are the highlights from this weekend.
Valaikappu/Seemantham: A traditional South Indian Baby Shower
The Valaikappu or bangle ceremony is a more informal ceremony performed by the family and friends of the mother-to-be. Glass Bangles are the most significant as the music of them tapping together is supposed to awaken the babies senses. Typically the mother-to-be wears them for the remainder of her pregnancy, but I had to take them off during travel.
The Seemantham is typically performed during the 7th month of the pregnancy to invoke the blessings of the Goddess to ease the passage of birth. The word “Seemantham” refers to parting the hair just above the eyebrow where the Goddess of Wealth, Sri Mahalakshmi, resides. This leads to the practice of applying kumkum to the part in order to propitiate the Goddess such that when a woman delivers a child, she is considered the embodiment of the Goddess herself. Photo Credit: Sai Lakshmi (aka Shuba Akka)
In between planning and preparing for the ceremony, we were able to sneak away for an hour to have some pictures taken by the very talented Jakob Lagerstedt. To be around my siblings and to have their unconditional love means everything to me! Photo Credit: Jakobfoto