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Rajasthan Workshop 1 documentation

Collaborating NGO: Urmul.

Dates: 23,24,25,26 May 1998.

Venue: Urmul, Rajasar,Rajasthan

Overall Participants: 18 Dai (From Banda,Dhirera,Hulmera,Sorwali,Makrasar,Bimarwali, Khelasar 2 DL,4 SLD,Raner,10 RM,3 RM,1 RM,3 SLM, Takhat Pura,8 SLD)
9 Urmul Health workers
4 Matrika members

Pre-Workshop Preparatory Meetings:
23-5-98 Urmul members
4 Matrika members
Sessions During Workshop

Day-1 --24-5-98: Introductions,
Role Play: Birth Practice.

Film Show
Day-2 -- 25-5-98: Sharing Matrika’s Posters (large group).
Dividing the group for poster discussion:
Opening of the body (Labour)
Birth and reeti-rewaz(rituals-custom)
Closing of the body (Post-partum) and reeti-rewaz.
Day-3 --26-5-98: Post-Workshop Meeting


Afternoon Session

Participants include 7 Urmul workers and 4 Matrika team members.

From Urmul
Santosh Mati

From Matrika

The meeting started with introductions.

Ramratni: I have been working as a health worker in Urmul since 1993. Thrice, I got training. I learnt everything about delivery and have also attended 2-3japas (birth). I have also worked with Dai.

Veena: I have been working in this organization since 1986. I am an old worker of Urmul. Initially I was working on health programs. I was in health program when

Dr. Sunil Kaul was there. I have done lot of work on Dai Training. These days I am doing work for sponsorship.

Kanta: I am in Urmul since 31st July 1997. I am not working in any specific program. These days I am doing lot of work on health.

Savitri: I have been working since 1993. I am working on health program.

Santosh Mati: I am working since 1996. I have two villages, Rajasar and Makrasar. I am doing health programs in these two regions.

Paana: I am working since 1993.
(Matrika team members introduce themselves)

Madhu: We are not going to tell the Dai anything special because they know more then us. We want to know and understand their skills and the situation in which you work. In our first meeting (February 1998) with you, we felt that Dais tradition is breaking and therefore we have to understand these circumstances. For instance, all the Dai in all our workshop said that they cut naal (cord) after the anwal (placenta) is expelled but in your training which is based on doctors method, you ask the Dai to cut the cord the moment baby is expelled.

Satyanarayan: The question on whether it is right or wrong arises when we give training to Dai. This is because we are following doctor's model and also the books.

Deepti: This is because no model has been made based on Dai skills.
Satyanarayan: With our training they are loosing their traditional skills because we do not have confidence in their skills. Therefore we are not being able to do anything. There is a need of a new model for Dai training. Matrika should help us in this. The present model was made by Dr. Sunil Kaul and is 10-12 years old.

Deepti: Based on the books, the doctors' model was prevalent all over the world but now everyone is being told to go back to traditional system. The need is to merge the traditional and modern system.
Satyanarayan: Even we have started feeling this because the Dai also feels in the same way. Matrika should see this and help us.

Deepti: Dai is losing some important things and we have to save them. We cannot impose anything on Dai till we know their work completely.

Madhu: The spreading of reth (sand) is linked to this question. We know nothing about the usage of sand we are hearing about it for the first time. But I feel there must be some very important reason for this tradition of using sand. We are not sure if it is wrong or right but the reason for discontinuing it because it might lead to white discharge needs to be investigated.

Satyanarayan: The sand was cleaner before but it is not so clean any longer therefore we stop Dai from using it.

Deepti: But is the cloth clean?

Santosh: Yes, this is a question and here people prefer to spread mitti(earth, and people here use the term mitti for sand) because it is warm. Dai usually make use of clean mitti .

Satyanarayan: But we feel that the baby falls on themitti and even the woman's shareer (body) touches the same mittiso definitely it can lead to infection. In future we will observe this more carefully.

Madhu: In our 3 days workshop we will talk about all these things. We will put more stress on their traditional skills. How they learnt and when they learnt. What are the problems that they face?

Santosh: In the workshop, mostly traditional Dai who have been working for a long time are coming. Village people know them very well. When we go for our fieldwork we stay in their houses. So we have a good relationship and they will openly speak.

Madhu: The biggest problem in the workshop will be language. Only I know Marwari so we will completely rely on you all.

Satyanarayan: This will not be a problem. Savitri and Santosh will help you in facilitation and Ramratni and Kanta will help in documentation. Four of them will always be with you and will help in organizing.
(The group discussion ended with making a program for the next 3 days)

DAY 1-- 24.5.98
Afternoon Session



Uma Bai
Paana Bai
Kheevni Bai
Mohini Bai
Rami Bai
Keshar Bai
Sayar Bai
Manohari Bai
Bhagwan Kaur
Prema Bai
Teeja Bai
Rukma Bai
Jamana Bai


2 DL
10 RM
3 RM
1 RM
3 RM
Takat Pura

Madhu: We have come here to learn about Dai work because we are losing the traditional knowledge of Dai. Doctors are using their own methods. So we want to talk about Dai traditional knowledge, which is closer to the culture of the local people.

Ramratni (addresses the Dai): This is Matrika team and they work with Dai. They have come here to learn about your work, the different ways in which you handle japa (birth).

Rami: I have been doing Dai�s work for the past 40 years. For last two years I have been with Urmul. I learnt Dai' work at home, from neighbors and from elderly women. First I handled delivery of my Bahus (daughter-in-law) and of my daughters. Then started handling delivery of neighbors. Till now, no case has been spoiled by my hands nor has anyone complained about my work. I have not taken any jacha (pregnant woman) outside. After associating with the organization (Urmul) I learnt that mitti should not be spread during birth (delivery on the sand floor). And to use Mamta kit (Dai�s birth kit received in training contains blade, thread, soap, plastic gloves) in a clean place. All this I learnt after joining Urmul. I cut naal (cord) after the anwal (placenta) is expelled. I started doing Dai work from the age of 20.

Keshar: We both, Rami and myself areDevrani and Jethani (wives of the two brothers, younger and older respectively). We have been handling birth for the past 20 years. We keep everything clean, cut the cord. We wait for an hour and then boba lagwa dete hain (put the baby to the breast). We feed the woman seera (sweet pudding). From our side we try to do everything properly and we have been managing well. If the baby is ulta (breech) then we make it seedha (head down presentation) and deliver. If baby's legs are down then buttock comes out first. If the baby is aara (transverse lie) then we make it seedha and deliver it. If the anwal is retained then we massage and expel it.

Rami Bai. Till now, I may have handled about 100 births. I stay with my Jethani and go with her during delivery because now she has become very weak. Now we have got training from Urmul so we make the jacha take tika (injection) and give goli-tikri (iron tablets and tetanus injection. It is interesting to note that women are not referring to specific substances rather the form that is given, goli-tikri. We have a concern here that sui-tika -goli medicine's are being practiced without understanding the pharmacological properties of these medicines). We cut naal. If there is keel (the first milk-colostrum) in the bitani (nipple) than we clean it so the milk should flow. We spread the mainia (plastic sheet) and do deliveries.

Uma: I am 70 and I have been doing Dai work for the past 50 years. I learnt Dai work from an old woman who was my neighbor. I learnt by going with her. If the baby is ulta then we support the woman’s buttocks and make the baby seedha and deliver. I cut the nala after the baby and the anwal are expelled. I still handle deliveries and I am also teaching one or two women who are my neighbors. Now I have become weak so I take someone along with me.

Paana: I learnt Dai work in my pihar. I learnt from my mother and Mausi. I used to go with them. When I was small, 13-14 years, I went to sasural, where my Saas taught me Dai' work. I learnt by going with her. I handle aara and ulta births. If the baby is too aara then its difficult. I manage to make it little seedha. Before we used to spread mitti (sand) and there was no goli-tikri. We used to give karha of ajwain and laung (concoction of omum and clove). This hastens delivery. We also boil milk, mix ghee (clarified butter) and shakkar (sugar) in it and give this to the woman. This produces heat and helps in getting the pains early. In villages we get garame ki goli (garame tablets- we are not sure what this is it might be brahmi tablets) which is given. We give small cloves. We also rub clove and make karha and give.

I started learning Dai work from the age of 13-14. I had an interest in this work since then. Now I am teaching my Bahu (daughter-in-law). For the past 15-20 years I have been handling deliveries here.
Kisturi: I live in village Lalavali’s, 15 SM chak. Earlier, my Saas used to handle deliveries. I learnt from her. I have been handling deliveries for the past 15-20 years. My Bahu lives with me and I am teaching her. If the pains are less intense then we have laung, ajwain or paan garame tablets. I do it if I think that I can manage or else I send the woman to the hospital. I manage to handle baby in aara , terha positions. First the baby moves down slowly, then the pain starts. For instance, the bachedani ka muh (mouth of the uterus) has not opened then it will take some time, if it is open then I can make out the time of delivery. I can make out because night and day I do this work and examine the mouth of uterus.

I have migrated from a place near Sardar town. I was given land here and I have been living here for the past 20-25 years. I started handling deliveries from the time I came here. I used to handle delivery of my neighbors, my daughters and of my Bahus because there was no other kind of facility here. Later I took training.

Chuki: I am from a village in Churu but now for the past 15-20 years I have been living here in Khelasar. My mother was old and used to go for deliveries. She used to say that my hands are weak and that I should go with her. And that she would teach me how to do it. She used to say that massage like this, aise masal doe, put your hands here, do this and do that. I stayed with her for 15-20 years. In my sasural there was a Raj Dai. She used to say, give garame goli , do this and do that and you will manage it. She used to say that everyday you should not call me, just give all this and handle it yourself. After this wherever I went I managed it perfectly. If the baby is in aara , terha position then I move the baby with my hands and it becomes seedha.

Madhu: Who is a Raj Dai?

Chuki: Raj Dai used to be employed by the government and went to everyone's house. She was given 300 rupees. We also gave her around 100-150 rupees. She used to come everyday, and also used to teach us, how to bathe the baby and take care of the baby and other things. She said, you just sit at home so go out to work. In the whole village there was only one Raj Dai and she used to go for deliveries. She was given grain and clothes. A bucket full of bajra (millet) and suit (dress) was given. I was given land over here so I moved here and neighbors started calling me. The work is going fine. Recently a jat (farmer) family called me. The baby was not coming out, glucose was given by the nurse but she wrote that the baby will die so they should take the woman somewhere else. The woman did some heavy work so the bacha phas gaya (baby got stuck in the pelvis). I told them that I will not be able to manage. The woman was in lot of pain. If she stays with me then maybe I can handle. Till late night I kept her with me. Then I let her go home. At 1 p.m. I went to her place and she gave birth at 10 a.m. the next day. The nurse gave her glucose, 3 bottles of glucose were given and only after that she delivered a baby girl. This is the first case of its kind, otherwise there are simple deliveries.

In a simple case we go and straight away give ajwain , laung ka karha and the pains start. I have been doing Dai work for a long time but have faced no problem and have managed. If the position of the baby is little aara , terha then I masal kar (massage) correct the position. Give karha of methi, ajwain, laung (concoction of fenugreek seeds, omum and clove). I see the mouth has opened then I know that it's time for the baby to come out. Only then I use my hand. In the beginning of the ninth month I can see and tell that now there is lot of time for delivery. If the time has come then the mouth is opening then I use my hand. If 10-15 days are left then I do not put my hands.

Kheevni Bai: I learnt Dai work from my mother and Mausi (mother’s sister). If the baby is in ulta position then buttocks come out first. Ghati (neck portion) may get stuck and I can take it out. On one woman first I did an external examination, touched her belly to check if the baby was moving around and felt the pulse of the baby then I did an internal check up of the bachadani. If the bachadani rupya aath ana khuli hai (uterus is half open, literal meaning half of a rupee, fifty paisa, establishing a co-relation between the break-up of aanas in paisa and that of the opening womb) then the baby will take aath or solah pahar (8-16 pahar, time, probably one pahar is equivalent to four hours, they have their own system of calculating time). If it has opened an inch then the baby will come out fast. I do a check up and then give a tablet, karha or ajwain or anything that produces heat and helps in the birth. After birth I take out the anwal if it is retained. If the baby is not crying then I hold the baby up side down and slap its back and abdomen. I sprinkle cold water of the earthen pot and the baby starts crying. I bathe and clean the new baby, cut the nala. Massage jachas' stomach and also press the woman's perineum with my heel. I use to spread mitti and cut the nala with a knife. But now I do not use mitti. If the baby is aara (across lie) then we have to send the woman to the hospital. If the baby dies or the woman has twins then we manage the delivery at home. If the woman is bleeding heavily then we keep something under her dunga (buttocks) and elevate her legs. But these days, people are aware of this problem so they take the woman directly to the hospital. At times, during pregnancy there is too much of water, this I can make out. In such cases, as much as 2 pots of water come out.

Guddi: My sasural was very large. My Devrani , Jethani and Nanad used to have babies. During this time I used to stay with them and watch how Dai used to do ulta into seedha. And I learned by watching her. I used to watch the senior Dai, who used to make the breech baby move to a head down position and could also deliver dead babies. She used to give milk, ghee and ajwain ka karha and handled birth so well. She used to support the woman.

I have been doing Dai work for the past 20 years. I learnt it from my Dadi Saas (husband’s paternal grand mother). She was a very well known Dai. Till now I have not spoiled any delivery. I manage to change the position of aara -terha baby. I can also estimate the time of the delivery. If the pains are not coming then I boil milk and scraped kopra (coconut) and give it to the woman to drink. Within 10 minutes the baby is delivered.

Manohari: I have been working as a Dai in my village Raner for the past 20-25 years. My Saas used to do Dai work. I used to accompany my Saas. I learnt everything from my Saas .I learnt to handle aara , munda, and ulta baby. After my Saas's death I started working on my own. If the baby is totally aara than I cannot manage it. If it is little aara and munda and the baby's legs are down, I manage on my own. If the pains are mild then I do not give anything. I see how far the baby has come down. If only 4 fingers distance is left (she seems not to be measuring the width of the cervix but descent of the baby in the pelvic from outside) then I give one tikki (a tablet made of ayurvedic herb) and the baby is delivered. If at this stage there is less pains (contractions) then I boil milk and put ghee, shakkar, laung and ajwain and give the karha. This increases the strength of the pain. I carefully check the bachadani to determine how much it has opened. If it has dilated to three fingers, then I deliver the baby. Before we used to make the woman lie down on dhool-mitti and cut the naal (cord) with the blade. The baby was given mother's milk (bache ko chubhate) under the coolness of the stars. Eight drops of milk is given initially. If the birth takes place in the morning then the milk is given in the evening after the stars come out. Till then both mother and child keep lying on the sand. Now so many things are given, mainia (plastic sheet to spread) and plastic ke haanth (gloves). Before we had no such things. We used to directly put our hands in the bachadani. A woman used to be left on the sand for 3-4 days. Now I am teaching my Bahu (daughter-in-law). Before, for 5-7-9 days we used to not take the baby out nor put any clothes on the baby. From my side I do good work.
Rukma: I learnt Dai work from my mother and Dadi (paternal grandmother). First she taught me to do a checkup. Once I learnt that then she taught me to handle birth. I can make out whether the baby is aara or ulta or munda in the kothali (bag). I give a hot karha made out of laung and jayphal (clove and nutmeg). If the shareer (uterus) is coming out then I support the perineum and help deliver the baby. If the shareer comes out post delivery then slowly with our heel we put it in. We do this for three days. I have been working like this for the past 20 years. Before we used to cut the naal with the knife. If woman felt cold then I used to heat up mitti and made her lie on it. In 6th month by feeling the woman's belly, I can make out that she is carrying twins. You can make out once they start moving.

Prema: I was married at the age of 15-16 years. When I was 18-19 years I learnt Dai work. I stayed with my mother. My mother did Dai work and she took me along with her and used to say that I should learn Dai work. Before we used to give karha. Mix ajwain, methi(fenugreek seeds) laung (clove)and gur (jaggery) in the boiling milk. And this used to increase the pain. After the delivery we used to cut the nara (umbilical cord) with the knife, spread sand and do deliveries. Earlier the deliveries were simple but now it has become very difficult. The body has become very weak because of the excessive intake of tea these days. From training, we have learnt about cleanliness and that if there is a problem then we show the woman to a doctor. If the water bag breaks before time then we show the woman to a doctor.

Jamana: I have been doing Dai work for the past 25 years. If the baby is in ulta position then I make it seedha and deliver and cut the naal with the knife. I cut it after the anwal is expelled. If the anwal is retained then I put the woman’s hair in her mouth. If the baby does not cry then I heat up anwal and slap baby’s legs, blow in baby’s ears and slap the back of the baby.

Jhinkar: I have been doing Dai work for the past 7 years. I learnt it from my Mausi. In my village there was no facility for childbirth so I started handling deliveries of my neighbors and of my relatives. I use to do external examination of the belly. Before I used to cut the naal with a knife and tie it by using the thread of the gudari (a thick bed sheet made out of old clothes). My mother or Saas were not Dai.

Sayar: Nobody is a Dai in my family. I am from a Jat caste. My Dadi Saas (husbands' paternal grandmother) was famous for taking out the retained placenta. She not only handled births but was also called if the placenta was retained. In the village there was only one Dai. I have a large family, Devrani , Jethani, Nanade and they used to have babies. During their deliveries I used to support them and watch the Dai handle deliveries. I learnt by watching. I can make out whether the birth is going to take 3 hours or 4 hours or if the pains have increased. First ajwain karha is given, milk, ghee is given. If the water bag breaks early then I get a little scared but still I manage it. I cut the naal after the anwal falls out. I press the abdomen and the anwal is expelled. I have handled many deliveries alone. Here I have been doing Dai work for the past 15 years.

Mohini: In my family nobody has done Dai work, my mother or my Nani (maternal grandmother). I learnt from Kamala, a nurse. I stayed with her for 5 years. Then I was 25 years, my husband had died. The nurse gave me some money for my work. I serve the entire village, for stomachache or headache. For delivery everyone comes to me.

Madhu: Is there a difference in the nurse’s and the Dai's way of handling delivery?

Mohini: There is not much difference. I first examine the bachadani. If it has dilated then I give heat producing food. If it has not dilated then I go home but tell the woman to be careful. I do not spread mitti for delivery. When I went with the nurse at that time too we did not spread mitti .

Bhagwan Kaur: A Muslim Dai lived next door. I learnt from her. Then I started doing deliveries on my own. I started at the age of 20. I have delivered triplets. The Muslim Dai taught me how to use hands. Muslim Dai are very knowledgeable, and this Dai taught me very nicely. I can take out a retained anwal , if the pains are not intense then I boil coconut and ajwain in the milk and give. If there is a need of sui, tika then I make the woman have them. I have delivered many ulta babies. Doctor gives tika , I don’t give.

Madhu: You have told us about your work. Few things we could understand but certain things were not clear. Now you show us (through role play) how you do deliveries. One of you can be a Dai and one can be a jacha (the pregnant woman) and one can do a role of the woman who gives support.

Role Play

Cast for the role play.
Guddi: Plays the role of Dai.
Chukki: Plays the role of jacha .
Manohari: Plays the role of a Saas or any member of the family.
Savitri: Plays the role of a neighbor.

Role play begins.

Dai: Examines the belly by touching." It will take sometime, warm up some sand and spreads it". She gives some hot drink to the woman. The pain starts and woman starts crying in pain. Dai supports the woman with her leg in sitting position, puts her own legs on the inside portion of the woman’s thighs and the birth takes place.

Dai: If I am alone then I either make the woman lie down or sit.
After birth the Dai makes the woman lie down and her legs are crossed, one leg is put on the other leg.

Dai: Her legs are crossed so that hawa (air or external energy) does not enter her body. Food is given to the new mother.

Dai: First some gur (jaggery) and anaaj ( food grains) is put in the plate. Bhagwaan sahi salamat se chutkara dilwana (Bhagwan everything should happen smoothly and should be over). Jaggery and grain is divided in two portions. With one portion halwa (sweet pudding with lots of ghee) is made and new mother eats and the other portion is put in the sieve and 7 times it is circulated around the jachas' (woman's) head and Baimata is asked to take care.

Dai: For a month, Dai takes care of the woman. Jachas' mother or Saas stays with her. After delivery, for about 3 hours we take care of the jacha , sometimes it may take 12 hours. I tie the gola ( some form of energy, the abdomen is tied so that the gola gets pressed). By tying, gola will get pressed. And this is more difficult then handling a delivery. If there is lot of pain then in lota (small metal pot) I put pieces of warm bricks, place a piece of cloth on the abdomen and do hot fomentation of the gola. Earlier, hot sira (sweet pudding with lots of ghee) was also given this would help lessen the gola.

Dai: Gur ka sira, dalia (porridge) is given after childbirth. If the jacha desires, little dal (lentil) and one roti is given. We take care of the jacha very well. In the ninth month we see jacha after every 4 or 5 day. After birth we clean up, bathe the jacha , beat the thali (plate) and go home. For 5 days we go to jacha ’s house everyday. Put ghee in her hair. Put oil and rajgarh (some herb) in hot water and bathe her. This cleans her and will save her from falling ill. If the naal of the baby gets infected, pus is formed, then we put warm mustard oil. It clears up.

We massage the woman’s body. Add pepper in ghee and massage her head. By this jacha will not get headache and will not fall ill. Her head will stay cool, pepper helps from getting headache.

Discussion on Training

Madhu: You have done training so tell us what you learnt from the training? What is useful in your work and what is not useful? Tell us openly, if you think that something is not correct in the training, you can say about that also.

Kheevni: There is a difference in what we did before and what we are doing now. Before there were no iron tablets or TT tika (tetanus injection) nor was there so much stress laid on cleanliness or not much attention was given to jacha during the 9 months. Now we know how green vegetables are very good. That similar food should be given to both the daughters and the Bahus. That nutritious food should be given to jacha during pregnancy. About all this we tell everyone in the village.

Doctors tell us that we should cut the nala once the baby is expelled. We do not like this, it does not suit us. We are not convinced and have no faith in it. Doctors have a remedy but we do not have. Doctors say that anwal does not climb up in the chest but we do not believe. If the anwal is not expelled then the family will curse us so we do not cut the nala.

Paana: People will say (sarcastically) that well, she is a trained Dai. So even if the child is lying in cold or on sand we do not cut the nala. Once I had cut the nala early then both jacha and bacha (baby) died, I got very scared. Village people abused me. That was some other Dai�s case. Because of that experience, now I do not cut the nala till the anwal is out.

Doctors say that in case you have to take the woman to the hospital then how can you bring her with the child hanging. But we are not convinced.

Uma: A girl had a bacha and the nala was cut and the bacha was separated. But the anwal was still inside. I went and took it out. I was very afraid the whole day and kept thinking why the nala was cut. Anyway I managed it well. With folded hands I prayed to Bhagwan and anwal came out. I never cut the nala till the anwal is expelled.

Rukma: I learnt Dai work by being with my mother. My mother was a traditional Dai. When I was small I used to go with my mother. I used to watch her, how she used to do japa. When I learnt Dai work I was 20 years old. I used to give jayphal (nutmeg) garame ki goli and ajwain ka karha. According to our traditional practice we used to do this. I have never sent anyone to hospital.
These days if the japa seems to be difficult and I feel that I will not be able to handle it then I send the woman to the hospital. But till now I have not spoilt any case. In 100 cases may be, I send one case to the hospital. We do not even have a doctor in our village.

Jarau: I lost my parents when I was small. We are 3 brothers and sisters. I asked the Raj Dai to teach me Dai work. I learnt it by being with Raj Dai. She took me the first day. She told me everything. She taught me about aara ,terha . We used to do gharelu ilaaj (home treatment). We can accomplish our work by giving garame ki goli, jaiphal etc. Before I used to spread sand but after training we have stopped. In the village people call us day and night, for japa. I do everything, cut the naal also. I can tell at what time the birth is going to happen.

Madhu: Matrika is trying to understand, recognize and advocate Dai' work. Matrika will tell city and town people and other such organizations, that Dai has the skill and is as competent as a doctor. People think that Dai can handle only simple deliveries but we know that there have been difficult occasions where a Dai has managed well. Dai handles more births than doctors and go to small villages and cater to poor people also. People also do not have the money to give doctors fees. The most important thing is that Dai gives and does japa with love, affection and care. She knows the jacha and has a special relationship with her.

Dai have a special relationship with the woman. You have a deeper knowledge of her body and therefore have a special relationship with her. We saw in the Role Play that the woman hides her face from her Saas but opens her shareer for the Dai.

Kheevni: Dai aur Mai ( Dai and mother) are the same that is what we say here. Mai comes later but Dai reaches before her. Dai is like Bhagwan. jacha herself has to run to see a doctor but Dai goes and sees the jacha , takes care and asks her if she has a problem (Implying that Dai is available like Bhagwan whereas doctors are far removed). A Dai can also tell the time of delivery.

Film Show

Everyone watched the film on the two Rajasthani Dai, Chhoti Devi and Dhapo of Jehangirpuri, Delhi. Some watched very intently, they were nodding their head maybe in agreement with whatever the two Dai were saying. However a few lost interest perhaps the film was too long or maybe they were tired and hungry or maybe they could not relate to the film as a medium.

After the film, a number of Dai were still in the room when Satyanarayan came in and asked them to honestly speak about any problems they have. Dai immediately started speaking very animatedly about problems they face in using mainia(plastic sheets) for deliveries. Jarau said they are each given only one sheet so she has had to tear her sheet into six pieces. Other Dai also angrily said that the khoon-tatti-pishab (blood, excreta and urine) stay on a plastic sheet whereas if sand is used, all this gets soaked in.

DAY 2 25.5.98
Morning Session

The session started with a prayer:

Tu hi Ram hai, Tu hi Rahim hai…

You are Ram, You are Rahim…

Then Dai sang a Marwari song.

Gigale ke dadaji disawar chalya…

Baby's grandfather went to town to work…(refer songs)
(Dai said their names again).

Madhu: Today, the whole day we will spend talking about your skills and work. We have some posters which were made on the basis of what the Dai of Bihar and Delhi shared with us. These posters are based on three processes of birth, opening of the body, birth and closing of the body and also the reeti-rewaz associated with the birth processes (Madhu explained these posters in detail).

We will divide into three groups on the basis of the 3 posters and discuss the process.

Poster 1- shareer ka khulna (opening of the body or labor ) will be with Renuka.

Poster 2- Janam(birth) with Deepti.

Poster 3- shareer ka band hona (closing of the body, post-partum) with Madhu.
(There were six Dai and three health workers with each group).


Group 1

Opening of the Body

Dai: Chuki, Kisturi, Jhinkari, Bhagwan Kaur, Kheevni, Rami.

From Urmul: Santosh, who helped in facilitation and translation and Ramratni who helped in documentation and translation)

From Matrika: Renuka

Kisturi: If a pregnant woman comes to us then we ask her to eat well. We tell her to eat all the things that she feels like having. If it's not available at home or if she cannot afford it then she should ask her neighbors. Whatever she likes she should eat, be it made at home or be it from the bazaar. If she does not like her roti then she could ask for sabji (vegetables) from others, Dai gives the permission or encouragement to do so. By third month we ask her to have ghee, water melon and cucumber etc. We ask her to pagan(walk) to her work but in the eighth month we ask the woman not to carry heavy things. Because if naar chanak gayi (veins are pulled),the fetus moves down then it can give problems to the woman. If the fetus shifts to the nabhi (navel) then there is lot of pain (perhaps carrying of heavy weight puts woman's body out of balance. The pulse that is supposed to be at woman's navel is displaced and gives pain). In eighth month woman has to be very careful. If the fetus stops moving around then woman is made to lie down and her legs are lifted and shaken. By this the fetus comes back to normal position. The pains stop.

Eighth month is very dangerous. If the fetus is delivered in eighth month then it does not survive because aath kaath hota hai (eight is like dried up wood). Kaath means wood and wood burns out and is finished likewise eighth month baby does not survive (baby is in the process of getting a proper form and therefore this stage is dangerous). If the fetus crosses two or three days of the ninth month, it survives. But very few deliveries happen in the eighth month because we take lot of care. If it is hot summer then we do not allow the woman to work in sun. Ask her to have cooling food. In winter we ask her to wear lot of clothes. Ask her to have hot food and ask her not to lift heavy stuff.

In eighth month we do not let the woman move between her peehar (mothers' house) and sasural(husbands' house) as something may happen on the way. Moreover, aath kaath hota hai. We do not let her roam around or step on wood or perhaps climb trees (it is interesting to note that traditionally any serious traveling would be on the wooden carts pulled by some animal) therefore she is not allowed to go anywhere.

When it is time for the delivery then the woman calls us. If delivery is not to happen at that time then we tell her and emotionally support her. We keep a watch and tell her that it will take another two, three or four days. We ask her to take rest.

Kheevni: If the pains are ruk ruk kar dheere dheere (at intervals and are mild) then it is kachha dard (false pain). If it is pakka dard then we with our fingers can make out how much the mouth of the uterus (garbhashay ka muh) has opened. Second, we can see the belly and assess. In pakka dard the belly is firm and the baby stops moving. If the pains are little less than we give ajwain gur ka karha(concoction of omum and jaggery),the pain gets increased. The pains are long and recurrent. Then the pains are at three-four minutes interval. Then by three long pains of five minutes each the baby is delivered.

When the pakka dard starts coming then the top of the abdomen has a four finger empty space and the fetus is low in the birth canal. At pakka dard the woman starts sweating, she is hot and says that now I am going to die I will not survive. She starts calling her mother and father then we give her reassurance. We tell her that it happens to everyone, it happened to that woman and to that woman. I take names of familiar women and say that for her japa I was there and for another woman's japa also I was there. Everyone gets these pains, I also got pain. We tell her that she should just tolerate the pain for a while and the tabar(baby) is about to be delivered. Here comes the tabar, here it comes. We keep saying this. We massage her and stroke her. (with these words the Dai gives her hope of the presence of the other women, Dai is making herself the conduit, encouraging and admonishing her to patience and tolerance, giving her psychological support).

Many times the woman's body does not open fully. Then we put our hand and with our fingers we can make out. We put oil in our fingers and stretch the flesh. This helps in letting the head come out easily. With mustard oil we massage the vagina very softly. When we feel that the mouth has opened then we stop. We don't do it many times. More than twice we do not even do an internal check up. If the pains are mild then in ajwain gur ka karha we put ghee and give. The pain increases by the ghee ki chiknai (fat of the ghee which acts as a lubricant) the baby comes down. The pain is increased by gur and ajwain because it produces heat.

Maybe the pains are not coming because of some aanth (blockage) inside then to open that block we open all the knots. We take off woman's bindi(red mark on the forehead) bangles, hair band( these social things perhaps create blockage), locks on boxes and windows. We say Baimata open her knots the way we opened all knots. We also give alms. Wheat grains are circulated around jachas' head, and are given to pigeons. Wheat grains, jaggery or flour is taken and divided in two portions. The larger portion is for the expectant mother and the smaller one for the baby. And with folded hands we say, "Baimata kasht khatam karo" (relieve her from suffering). And then we offer these things in alms or give it to the birds.

There is a separate room for japa(delivery). At the time of japa the Dai remembers all her Devi-Devata (Goddesses and Gods). With folded hands pay obeisance to Baimata and Dharti Mata (Mother Earth). Before entering the room in which the woman is sleeping (japa ghar), we touch its threshold and pay obeisance, the way we do to the threshold of a temple(making an analogy, japa-ghar is like a temple and the laboring woman is like the idol in the temple. The feelings for the laboring woman is similar to that what is for the idol). We fold our hands and say," Bhagwan do justice and relieve her from agony".

When a Dai goes for japa, first she goes near the fire. By this she wards off the evil spirit and the infection and then only goes to the jacha . If Dai is coming from outside, then she waits outside for five-ten minutes. She dusts off her clothes and believes that the spell of any animal, dog or cat or that of an atma or chaya (spirit) or buri nazar (evil eye) will be warded off. And the jacha will not have any problem. The people at home are told to keep a pot of water and a knife near her head so that no bhooth-pret (evil spirit) comes. In siyale(winter) a coal or charcoal brazier(angitih) is also kept. We believe evil spirit cannot come near fire, water and iron. There is a fear that Bhutni(female demon) may come attracted by the aroma of ajwain. Bhutni is a dissatisfied spirit, who died early and therefore wanders around. She has a desire for everything therefore she may come by ajwain's aroma. Bhutni is also attracted by the foul smell of gandh (dirt, perhaps it is considered as dirt because if it stays inside then it becomes poisonous) and in those days there is smell from dirty blood and therefore she may come. Bhutni is alone, so she feels that if somebody dies then she will get company and will feel good (Bhutni's need of company is similar to the mother's need of companionship). Therefore she wanders around the expectant mother. We too feel nice if there are four people with us similarly Bhutni feels she should have more people for company. There is a custom here that the jacha is not left alone till she has had a bath, name is given for the baby and the puja is done. Dai sleeps in her room or somebody from the new mother's house, may be, mother or sister or Devrani or Jethani.

Kheevni: If the jacha gets tired during birth then we support her belly. This gives her a little support. If the pani ka thaili(bag of water )breaks or desu dhal gaya (the breaking of water bag is referred as desu dhal gaya) then delivery should happen within half an hour otherwise the water may enter into baby's eyes, nose, mouth or the veins and this can be dangerous for the baby. After desu dhalna the head can be seen. We ask the woman to apply force to hasten delivery. If she gets tired then we hold her belly and her legs and help her to push. She is also reassured by this act as she feels that somebody is supporting her. If the head is stuck in the birth canal for a longer time then it gets elongated. After birth of the baby we massage her belly by stroking in circles and slowly, take out the placenta. After this we clean baby's mouth and ears. And cut and tie the cord at four fingers.
Then we take care( saaj-sambhal)of the woman. We put ghee and press her forehead. Then we make the woman stand and the Dai presses the jacha 's belly with her head to help expel blood. This is kala khoon(black blood). In this way the nine months stored blood is expelled. This flattens the belly. If the blood is not taken out then the belly looks swollen as if there is a baby inside. If this is not done, then the bleeding continues for a month or month and half. If the kala khoon is taken out then bleeding stops in three-four days.

There is a separate room for japa. Only jacha , Dai and another woman who takes care of woman, may be the Saas or anybody else, stay there. For jacha there is separate utensil, a plate, a glass is kept. These utensils are considered unclean. If someone touches them then he/she has to bathe. Till the jacha has a bath, name is given to the baby and puja is done she is considered unclean (chhutak). No outsider can go inside. jacha 's uncleanness is contagious but not that of Dai because she goes out, and also has a bath. On fortieth day the earthen pots are changed (an analogy between the earthen pots and the woman). After bathing the new mother, the room is also cleaned. Till this day only Dai was touching her and taking care of her. Nobody from the house was touching the jacha . Dai massages the new mother and the new baby. There is tradition to use wheat grain flour, ghee and turmeric for massage. This softens jachas' skin and her skin glows like that of a new bride. Her shareer is cleaned with warm water and Rangjhar(some herb) water. Rangjhar is like the roots of baer(berries). We boil Rangjhar and put ghee in this water and make the new mother sit in it. This helps in fomentation and prevents infection. This is done for three-four days. If the woman gets a perineum tear then we soak cotton in ghee and turmeric and keep it on the tear for three-four days.

Ramratni: In Marwari language, shareer is called Bhosari or Chooth or tita or china These words are used only for gaali(abuse). At the time of japa or if there is some disease then the word shareer is used. Like if there is a problem of safed pani (white discharge) then it is said shareer se safed pani nikal raha hai or shareer main khujali ho rahi hai ( vagina is itching).

Kheevni: If the head gets stuck in the shareer(birth canal) then we put oil and stretch the shareer and slowly with our fingers, pull the body of the child and take it out. If the baby is terha(not in favorable position) then an operation is to be done in the hospital(Dai recognizes the problem). A baby with crossed feet (aalti- palti) does not open even with massage. We do an internal examination and if the mouth of the uterus is not open and it seems that it would be difficult then we send the woman to the hospital.

Rami: Baby with folded hands and legs, twins and babies like monkey or lions' shape (monster baby) are very difficult deliveries. Sometimes the child takes the form of monkey or lion but these happen in one in thousand cases. But I have delivered such baby's. Dai are respected by people if they manage such difficult cases.

Kheevni: If a Dai spoils a case then that family does not let the Dai enter their house and don't give her anything. They trouble her a lot. But if a doctor spoils a case then nothing is said.
Kisturi: Otherwise also Dai take so much care, doctor doesn't, but families give nothing to the Dai. Doctor is not concerned about the woman being dead or alive only scolds. Dai massages woman's hand and feet and works so much but people don't give her anything. We only want to earn for our two- time bread but we get nothing.

By the birth of a girl baby woman has many problems. Many times the Dai does not tell the woman immediately after birth that she has got a girl baby. Dai takes everything on herself. On the birth of girl even lesser money is given. Dai does not have fixed homes to go to for work. Anyone can call her. She can go to anyone's house.

Kisturi: Dai is also deceived many times. Some men of families see that the Dai is a little weak then they misbehave with her. Dai goes out to earn a little money and men try to abuse her. Many time men in jachas' family are drunk and they say bad things. It's quiet unsafe when men come to call us and take us. Therefore we do not go to far off villages. We go in our own village or to known people's houses. We never go alone but with other two- three neighboring women.

Bhagwan Kaur: Once in some village a man asked the nurse to come to his house for delivery. In the house they had dressed up a woman like a man and had also made him look pregnant. The nurse went in to help but was abused. Likewise Dai have also been mistreated.

Kheevni: At birth it has been a tradition to spread mitti but for the past 2-3 years we are being told to spread mainia(plastic sheet). Urmul has been saying this. Women dislike mainia because the dirty blood collects on it and the woman can see it. Some even use the same mainia for the delivery of another woman and women do not like it. Dai also say that we have conducted ten deliveries, seven deliveries on mitti nothing happened so why should we use mainia. mitti soaks, all the dirt, a sheet can be spread on mitti still it soaks all the dirt. If a woman does not see that black dirty blood then she does not get a shock.

Kisturi: Doctors and the western medicine people say that with mitti infection may enter her body and can lead to white discharge disease or other problems. Many women have white discharge problem. Now people believe that many infections are caused because of mitti.

Kheevni: Before women used to get healthy food like khichari (a mixture of cooked rice and lentils) rabari(thickened milk) chaach(thickened milk) and other cooling food, milk and curd and these were very healthy foods. Grains were grown without fertilizers and had pure water from deep inside the earth. These days we get dirty water of canal to drink, and fertilizer food to eat. This gives illness to women. We are not in favor of using mitti but the older women in the family force us to use it.

Kisturi: mitti gives garmaas (heat) and helps in getting pains early and facilitates birth. Many times in kacha dard woman is made to lie on mitti . Woman feels relaxed. Besides generally if a woman gets a backache then too she sleeps on the mitti , she feels nice.

Santosh: mitti of this region is very clean and good. mitti is brought from hills and is very clean.
Ramratni: In our area mitti under the aank (herb) tree is used and it is very clean. People do not shit near that tree. Medicinal value of the aank tree is also in that mitti .

Kisturi: There are also certain disease's that can be stopped by this mitti .

Kheevni: We all feel (Dai) that mitti should be used during japa.

Dai Mai(Dai mother) can help in birth but fate is written by Baimata. Till birth, life depends on Dai. We count the months of pregnancy on the basis of moon(waxing waning). Like if her periods stop on amavasya (no moon) then on next amavasya it will be one month.

Chuki: Earlier no cloth was spread on mitti . But now we spread a sheet on mitti . Before we used to conduct japa on earth floor and then the baby was taken aside and the new mother was made to lie on the mitti .

If the woman gets nervous then we do japa in squatting position and support her from behind. If bacha peeche hota hai (the pressure is towards the woman’s back, the rectum) then we put cloth in the latrin ka rasta (anus) and press it with our hands so that it does not get on the baby's head or chest and the baby is not stuck in that passage. If woman is anemic then her body becomes pale and swells up and she goes blind when she stands up. If woman's legs have swelling then with warm salted water fomentation is done and this restarts circulation of blood.

Rami: If a woman is anemic then we massage her with salt water and ask her to eat well like to have milk, curd, green vegetables, green gram, spinach, lentils, watermelon and tinda( a vegetable).If there is nothing at home then she gets chhaachh(thinned curd) from the neighbors. We ask her to have lot of khichri(cooked mixture of rice and lentils).

Kheevni: Nobody refuses anything to a pregnant woman because the baby inside her womb needs to have food. The baby gets food from mother. The jacha blesses people for food that is given.
(The Birth Atlas was shown to the group. The Dai were commenting while it was being shown. Below are the comments).

Chuki: In fifth month people can make out that the woman is pregnant.

Kheevni: Awalnal is called chattis nari (chattis - thirty six, we are trying to understand if the term nari is being used for veins, meridian or vessels). Therefore it is considered bad to cut naal and Rajput and Brahmins (upper castes) do not cut the naal (cord). Only Megh and Nayak (lower caste) Dai cut naal or the new mother herself cuts the naal.

Once a Rajput Dai refused to cut the naal. Nayak Dai is given money, clothes and grains for cutting the naal, cleaning the clothes and for bathing the baby.

Nayak and Megh Dai are considered to be from unclean caste. Brahmins and Rajputs are considered upper castes and therefore they do not cut the naal. Untouchability is prevalent. Nayak, Sansai, Meghwaal and others are considered untouchables, Rajputs and Brahmins keep a distance from them.

(The discussion turned to caste and problems faced by the Dai and their families.)

Chuki: Our children usually don't study. People from the village say that children should be educated. These days children have started studying. There is lot of water problem.

Kheevni: From winter till spring we dry up vegetables like tindasi kakari and eat it throughout the year. But because of water shortage there are many problems these days. Vegetables cannot be grown. Wherever there is canal, agriculture can be done, vegetables also grow there. Crops fail because of shortage of water. People who have some facility do agriculture. Our men work in jats' land. They do some small work. Our life is very difficult. We go to far off places to bring water. Before we had drying variety of vegetables and leafy vegetables and our own produce would last for a year. But now we have to buy vegetables.

Group 2


Dais: Mohini Bai, Paana Bai,Jamana Bai,Rukma Bai, Prema Bai and Keshar Bai.

From Urmul: Savitri Bai, Paana Bai, Veena and Rameshwari. (Savitri helped in facilitation and translation. Veena helped in documentation.

From Matrika: Deepti.

Deepti: Tell us about the things that you do at the time of birth?

Mohini: We examine woman's paet (belly). If twins are there then both the sides of the paet is hard as there is a baby on each side and it is soft in the center. We can make out that twins are there. We can make out by seventh -eighth month. If one baby is in a head down position then its head comes first and if the other baby is ulta then buttock comes out first and then hands and legs come out. Twins have one anwal . This can be dangerous for the twins. Sometimes there are 2 anwals, one for each baby, then there is no danger of them falling ill. Twins with one anwal may have problems even in later years. If one falls ill then the other also falls ill. The fear of illness and death is there. At the time of birth ajwain, brahami ki goli and laung is given. The pain starts 15 days early. At the time of delivery the pindi(upper back of the thighs) is massaged. It is massaged the way the jacha asks for. The woman's legs start shaking, she has pains in her Kamar(whole of lower back and waist area) shareer ubaharta hai (at the time of birth mother's body is coming to its fullness-baby's head fills the vagina), the baby starts coming out. Head starts showing and at that time we start using our hands to help. Pairwa (water) keeps on flowing.

Paana: If the woman is vomiting then we believe it uparla desu(energy associated with desu goes up).Desu (bag of water) comes down. She passes stool many times. When desu breaks then water comes out like a fountain. Baby is in the thaili( bag of water). If thaili comes out then we break the thaili. Baby comes out with the jhilli, (membrane).

Keshar Bai: A thick piece of cloth is placed against the tatti wala rasta (anus). We make the woman squat on the bricks and press the cloth against the anus. So that the baby is delivered smoothly. By this the baby does not go towards the back. And even she exerts pressure towards the front. The baby then comes out fast. We hold her paet and straighten the anwal and take it out. The cord should not be pulled hard.

Prema: We wait for half an hour for the anwal to come out. Then we have to take it out. We do not cut the naal till the placenta is delivered. We believe in case of girl baby the anwal takes longer to come out. We do not tell the jacha the sex of the child till the anwal is delivered.

Paana: If jacha ' s bacha dies at birth then the Dai puts the next baby born to this woman in a chhanle(sieve). Puts 1 kg of salt in mother's jholi (the woman holds out her saree to receive). Dai says "bacha le lo bacha le lo"(take the baby, take the baby). Then mother takes the baby in exchange of salt. Then that baby lives. Then the baby's nose and ears are pierced. The place the baby's head touched at the time of birth --a coconut is buried there. An earthen pot is broken and the baby is passed through the mouth of the pot.

Mohini: The mouth of the pot is tied on the top of the hut. tikki (the red sticker, sindoor which is put on the forehead by women), baal, laung, churi (hair, nose ring and bangles) are taken off and offered to Baimata. After the birth of the baby a Chhati Puja is done, at that time the jacha is made to wear all the things (bangles and tikki). She puts mehandi (henna). After 5 days sathiya mandathe hai (swastik is drawn). Put kohl on the roti, worship Baimata, light a lamp and eat. Pair mandathe hai (make foot impressions) and then goes in the house.

Baimata roams around everywhere for 5 days. Only after the 5th day she goes to somebody else's house. Dai also goes to somebody else's house after the 5th day. Baimata goes to every one's house.

Keshar Bai: After birth, boba pilathe hain (baby is put on the breast). The first milk is given under the calmness of the stars. A ring is put on the boba (nipple) and milk is taken out in the plate. On the kasa thali (plate made out of a mixed metal) the Nanad (husband's sister) cleans the breast and then the baby is made to drink from the new mother's breast. Gur and milk ghutti (decoction) is given Nanad is given naek (ritual gift/money).

Mohini: We spread mitti . Ask the woman to apply force by holding a pole. If it is the first baby then sometimes during birth the woman stands for birth. (Mohini gets very animated and she gets up and begins dramatizing and intensely acting out). Once a jacha bit me during birth. She bit me at two places on my legs then I slapped her. The jacha is sometimes very agitated but Dai gives love. During birth we ask the other women from the house to hold the jacha 's abdomen.

Prema: After birth if the child does not baal-saad (first cry) and bache ko dunga latkate hain (child is hung up side down). We give phunkani (to blow). We slap the back of the child and also sprinkle cold water. If the child still does not cry then we warm up anwal . We burn the coal and warm up anwal on it.

Rukma: If the anwal is retained than we massage with our hands and take it out. In a village a childbirth was to happen in a Bishnoy's (a caste group) house. The baby had died in the womb. Doctor saw her but got very scared and refused to touch her. He could not do it. They were ready to go to a hospital. They asked me and I took out the dead baby. Baby was in the thaili. I sat in the front of the jacha wore gloves and took the baby out. When the woman had pains in the early months then blood clots had come out. She used to eat coal and chikani mitti (clay), which got stored around baby's body. This can happen. I took out the baby and cleaned baby's body. Then jacha 's father gave 1000 rupees to me as a reward.

Savitri: Are there any other danger signs at the time of birth? Tell them too.

Paana: Legs swell up. Nails become pale. We tell them to have a good diet from the early months itself. The woman does all household work, outside work, brings water, she gets no time to eat. Therefore she becomes weak. Earlier ghee-milk, tillo ka tel(sesame oil) and gur (jaggery) were given. At the time of japa (birth) women's legs are kept in the front, sometimes the Dai makes the woman sit on her legs. If the baby does not cry immediately (baal-sadh) after birth then we hang the baby upside down, slap baby's legs and softly slap the head and the lower back.

Keshar Bai: Then cut the naal We bury the anwal with kumkum(red powder) and a ring. We bury it in a straight position. It id said that if you put it in ulta position the baby will vomit. The baby can fall ill. If the baby later falls ill then at the time of menstruation, the anwal is taken out and washed, the baby is bathed and made to lie down and sleep.

Prema: At birth we warm up the mitti and spread. Lot of water comes out in some cases.

Mohini: After birth, we take little blood from the anwal dip cotton in it and make the baby lick it.

Deepti: Do you always do this?

Dai: Yes, we all do this.

Mohini: With our finger we take some blood from the anwal and make the baby lick it. By this the baby will not have saans ki bimari(respiratory diseases). The baby will not get uparla (pneumonia). At the time of japa we keep a chulha(wood stove) lighted. We do not put foons (hay) in it or else the baby may get funsi (rashes). After birth we boil water on the fire lighted by using foons and bathe the women. We do not give food to the women in kasa plate. From the earthern pot the woman must not be given the first lota of water. If it is given then the baby might get uprala(pneumonia). After birth the woman should not eat or drink very fast.

Keshar Bai: After birth massage is done for the woman. Head is massaged, lower back is massaged. She feels relaxed. With loi (a wet mixture of flour, turmeric powder, ghee) the new mother is massaged and the baby is bathed with warm water. We put Raang ki jar (some kind of root) in the water and make jacha sit, for a while in the water. This is done for 2-3 days we put this water in a karahi (deep utensil).This also helps in closing of the shareer. If at time of birth the bachedani ka muh does not open then we put oil in our fingers and massage. If the mouth of the uterus is very hard then by massage it opens.

Paana: A woman’s delivery was conducted in the hospital because she was very short. First she had kasuliya (false pain). One should not apply force at japa (birth). By the force the shareer may get a tear. If there is a tear then we put a chopa of ajwain and ghee (paste of ajwain and ghee). At japa the shareer may tear but it heals on its own.

Mohini: The woman sweats when the baby is about to come out. As the time moves for the birth she starts sweating more. Her sauth( thighs) start shaking. Then desu breaks. The baby starts coming out. In one out of 100 cases a black balloon (bag of waters containing meconium) comes out which the Dai has to break.

Deepti: How many japas(birth) have you attended?

Mohini: Done 400-500 japas.

Paana: Done 50 japas.

Jamana Bai: Done 200-300 japas. Since I am illiterate there is problem in recording births.

Mohini: There is a girl in my house who was born with 18 fingers. I cut few of them with the blade.

Now she has six fingers in each hand. This happens at times.

All Dai: Yes this happens. One pregnant woman cleaned a milk can at the time of eclipse, she had a daughter who was blind. Eclipse is dangerous for pregnant woman. If she cuts vegetables with knife then the child's lips or nose or ear or any other part of the body will have a tear or the baby has a mark on the body. If the woman sees the eclipse then the baby becomes deaf.

Deepti: Tell us about some reeti-rewaz(rituals-customs) that are done at the time of birth?

Prema: When the pain starts Dai is called. The Dai sees whether the baby is ulta(breech) or seedha (head-down position). The woman is made to sit and Dai puts her legs on the inner portion of the woman's thigh. Dai gives baal-sadh (first cry) to the baby. Rolls up a paper and blows air to help baby breathe. Then she ties up the new mother's abdomen, combs her hair. Cuts the nara. The new mother is made to lie on the cot and all around the cot munja (coconut husk) is kept.

After 5 days there is Chhati Puja. Churma(a sweet dish)is made, jacha puts henna, Baimata is drawn and a black tota (amulet) is tied on the baby. The Pandit(priest)looks at the patra (horoscope) and if he says that the baby is mangal nachatra ( mangal star). The dakauth is given grain (Dakauth is a woman who receives oil to appease mangal shani(stars). Tilak (a red long line on the forehead that is put after puja) is put for woman and kohl is also applied in her eyes.

Paana: If the Pandit (priest) sees nashatra (certain stars) then the name of the baby is taken on 21st or on the 27th day. Dakauth is given black cloth, oil and grains. After giving, the dakauth is sent out of the house, early in the morning, in the dark around so that nobody sees her. The Dakauth should not turn around and see anybody this is very important.

Prema: Pandit takes out the name for the baby and clothes are given to the Nanad (husband's sister). All the neighborhood women come and sing songs. There is jalwa-puja (it is done after 25, 30 or 40 days after birth). Wheat or moong dal (pulses) is soaked in water and ghugari (some dish) is made and distributed. Kuan pujan (well worship) is done. Churma ke laddu (roti is crushed and mixed with ghee and then made into balls) is offered at the well. Only after this the jacha is allowed to touch the earthen pots (an analogy between the pot and the woman, transformation takes place in the pot and in the woman's body).

Deepti: You said that you have done many japas (births) so tell us about a japa(birth) that you remember? You may have handled it long back but it may be fresh in your memory.
Prema: My bhabhi(elder brother's wife) had 2 children, both died. Then a gaanth (knot) came out from her stomach. Bhabi was ill and then she died. In my village there was another woman who had her first japa (birth) and she was very afraid. The doctor gave her injection and she was very afraid of injections. The two children were born alright and both started crying. I said that anwal (placenta) has not come out. After the anwal (placenta) was delivered I told her that she has got one boy and one girl baby. The jacha (pregnant woman) was weak so I told that she should be given lot of milk with little ghee in it. So that she could feed the babies properly. Now the children are nice and big.

I had 2 bhabhis. After the death of the first one my brother married again. The chhoti (younger) bhabhi was five months pregnant and at that time the elder bhabhis' chhaya (shadow) fell on her. Chhoti bhabhi used to say in the elder bhabhi's voice that she would kill her (chhoti bhabhi). She had the baby. She was going to her pihar(mother's house), the baby was with the Saas (mother-in-law) . She asked for her little baby but the Saas refused. On Wednesday, the brother took bhabhi to her pihar. And on next Wednesday she died. Her husband did dora (taking away negativity)and came home. At night he was lying down and smoking biri (local cigarette made of leaf and tobacco). The biri fell all by itself.

Bhabhi had gone to kund(well) with a lota(small metal pot). It was amavasya(no moon night), when she was putting the lota to fetch water she slipped and fell in the kund. If she had carried the baby with her then the baby would have also fallen and died. Four men took her body out of the kund, there were no clothes on her body. My brother was called, he told father about it. My father said that the body should be cremated and there was no police case.

My first bhabhi had 3 children. The first got dhowan (some kind eye problem) in the eyes, the second one got motiya(cataract) and the third also died. In my bari bhabhi some musalmani(muslim woman's) chaya ( shadow) had come on her. The Brahmin does a dora(ritual for taking away negativity).

The chhoti bhabhi died in the kund. Her child is there and is now grown up and big. Later chhoti bhabhi strangled her own bhabhi and killed her. (This is the chhoti bhabhi's spirit killing her own bhabhi later on). Many women have died in the kund.

Deepti: If women die at japa do they become churail?

Rukma: If a woman dies and her bangles are not taken off then she becomes a churawan. If the woman is of kachi umar( young) then this may happen. For kachhi umar girl coconut's hair and grains khindwate hain(are scattered). At the time of birth there is no dora on the body nor should it be at the time of death. We are not born with bangles so it should not be worn on death. The baby comes out with closed fist and if it dies than the palms are open.

Prema: On death the body is taken out fast and is not kept for long at home. There is life if alive but on death there is nothing. Vultures eat dead animals and we eat death for 12 days. I die, but after my death 2 quintals of grains are khinda(scattered, wasted). I feel that this should not be done.

Rukma: Ausar(rituals) are done and it should be done. Otherwise our parents and elderly people's soul wanders around.

Jamana: (There is intense reaction and some heated remarks as regards death time rituals, lots of disagreement). A cover should be put on the mouth of the earthen pot. How can you put cover? How can you stop people from talking? Four-five people gather and talk. A person is in debt and cannot get rid of debt. Lifelong the balad (bullock) is attached to the bullock-cart likewise human beings are attached to their families. Life gets over in pulling the cart and after death money is spent (It is both metaphysical and socio-economic).

Deepti: After birth if the baby is dead then is it buried or is it cremated?

Prema: If dead baby is born then we dig a place with hoe and bury it and plant a bush there. The wooden handle of the hoe is left there. If the baby is a boy then we cover him in white cloth and if it is a baby girl then red cloth is used. If the baby dies during birth then the baby's mother's name is called, on the woman's lap coconut is kept and tilak puja(tilak worship) is done. She is not allowed to eat dry coconut till she has had another baby. If at birth the woman dies then all her ornaments are taken off and given to her family. She is bathed with soap, made to wear a bindi(red powder dot on her forehead),kohl, henna, nail polish and clothes and also tie these things with her(it is done for woman whose husband is alive). She is taken for cremation and all her clothes are taken off. She is covered with a yellow sheet and then she is cremated.

Keshar Bai: A case of a girl who was 15 years. Her first delivery was fine but the second delivery was very difficult. She was getting pains in her abdomen and the pains were going up. I told that it is not possible to have the baby here then she was taken to Lunsarankar hospital. Over there the doctor refused. It was 10:00 O’ clock at night and I said the delivery should be done here and she was admitted. With lot of problems she had a girl baby. But the baby died. The baby did not get baal-saadh (first cry). She has a boy child (her first born baby) who is grown up now.

I did japa of a 12 year old girl. I took lot of care, made karha (decoction) and gave her to drink. The bachedani ka muh was very small and was not opening. I slowly massaged her shareer. And poked her thaili with viti. With viti we break the thaili. If we do with our nails than jahar fail jata hai (poison spreads, Dai know about infection). I poked with the viti and the baby started coming out. The head started coming out. When a Dai is doing japa then the family of jacha say Ram (name of Bhagwan) should do good for you (Dai). But after 10-15 days no body cares for us.

Rukma: There was a baby born during the seventh month (satmahi). In the seventh month the woman had started bleeding. She was given brahmi goli, karha and nutmeg. It was 11:00 O’ clock at night. Baby's hands came out first, the baby had crossed its legs inside and it was a very difficult japa. I took out the baby somehow. That woman's Devrani and Jethani were sleeping, only I was there with her. Made the baby do baal-saadh and then put the baby next to the mother. At 4:00 p.m. the baby died. I woke the family. I asked for handi (earthen pot), misers gave a very small handi. Even that small baby could not lie in it. The neighbors and relatives requested that I come with them. I took the baby in the handi and buried it. They gave 10 rupees but I did not take it. I said if you really want to give then give 101 rupees otherwise don't give anything.

Prema: Lot of care is to be taken of a seventh month baby. We keep the baby wrapped in cotton. The baby is to be protected from cold breeze or else the baby may die. Drop by drop mother's milk is given (Knowledge of the care to be taken of pre-mature babies).

Other Dai: We do it like this and have saved many babies.

Prema: A musalmani (muslim woman) had a baby. When I tied the naal all the blood came out and the baby died.

Jamana: In one japa the jacha was a girl. When she started having problems her mother got scared. But the girl was courageous, she told her mother not to worry and that her father was ill and if she got scared, he would die. The girl kept courage so did the other members of the family, her mother and me too. The baby was delivered. I still remember her brave words.

Prema: A baby was born and had 3 heads and one body and the body was very small. The other 2 bodies were also attached on the body. I did the japa and the baby died.

Other 2-3 Dai: These types of babies are born. We have also seen.

Paana: One woman was going to have a baby. She started pushing but it was false pain. I told her not to do that because if she pushed now then shareer may come out. Gave her brahmi ki goli and I went home. Her family members came to pick me up. I went with them and said that it will take some time now. It was night. I gave ajwain, paan (betel leaves) and brahmi ki goli. Took her to Lunkaransar,I went with her. Her family members wanted her to take tika but I stopped them. I stopped them for 2-3 hours. In kache dard (false pain) tika can be dangerous, bachadani can tear. Bachadani's muh had not opened. I asked the woman to sleep. At 5:00 p.m. in the evening, she was given glucose drip and at night at 12:00 p.m. she had the baby.

Savitri: It is an old belief that babies are not born at pahale pahar that is between 1:00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. But now we do not believe this. When I had my first baby I only had severe pain in my head and nowhere else. I kept on doing my work. When I went to pass urine the baby came out in the thasla (wide bowl). My sasur (father-in-law) started scolding my Saasu(mother-in-law) that she was not taking care. She said that she did not know about it as I did not say anything. I said that I myself did not know about it. Dai was called, she came immediately and cut the naal.

Paana: First milk is given under the shade of the stars. If the baby is born during the day then milk is given in the evening. This everyone believes.

Group 3

Closing of the Body & Reeti-rewaz

Dai: Sayar, Uma, Manohari, Guddi, Rukma, Jarau

Urmul: Asha, Paana, Uma, Kanta—who did documentation

Matrika: Madhu

Placenta-Umbilical cord

Guddi: After birth the anwal (placenta) does not come out straight in the passage but many times it gets stuck in the empty kokh (womb) and therefore it does not get expelled fast. To make it come out we make the woman cough.

Uma: If the anwal is not out then we put jacha 's hair in her mouth. Abdomen is massaged a little. This makes the jacha puke and the anwal is expelled.

Sayar: We hold the upper portion of the abdomen and press from both sides. Then after expelling the anwal her shareer is placed back (referring to pressing the perineum with their heels). Baby's mouth is wiped, the Dai may blow in baby's mouth, slap the back, light fire and give heat to the baby and the baby starts crying.

Rukma: Pagawani (buttocks first) is not difficult but the neck may get stuck. We take the baby out with the help of our hands. If the baby is blue, eyes are shut and it does not breathe, then Dai slaps the back of the baby if it is alive then it starts crying. Dai gives heat to anwal . She puts khira (perhaps it’s the burnt charcoal?) in a mud pot and keeps anwal on it and slowly milks the anwal .

Manohari: If the baby is lethargic at birth and is not breathing then heat is given this way.

Rukma: After the anwal is expelled lot of care is taken of the anwal . We seek the protection of anwal for the happiness of the child. So the anwal is buried along with blade, money, grains and jaggery. The naal is kept very safely because naal is crushed and given to drink, to women who do not bear children. And her womb starts functioning.

Manohari: I have kept naal of all my seven children very safely (all of them say that they have kept their children's naal very safely, tied in a cloth). The naal that sheds in saawan (rainy season) is kept very safely.

If bael badhini hai (literally-if the vine is to grow or if one is to have more children) then anwal is buried with grain, money and jaggary in the place where the cow is tied with the pole. This helps to increase the bael (have more children).

Rukma: After anwal is buried, plate is also beaten.

Manohari: The new mother can also cut the naal. If she is not able, then Dai cuts it. Dai Mai (Dai mother) is as lovable as a mother. Either Dai cuts the naal or the new mother cuts it because Dai Mai Vaid Kasai (a saying that Dai is like mother, vaid and a butcher). Dai Mai only cuts the naala and nobody else because it’s a dosh (blemish or transgression). There is life in naal equivalent to the life of a baby. naal has bahater naari (seventy-two veins or vessels or meridians) and by cutting one commits paap (sin). It is a sin even if the mother cuts the naal but it is less paap. The new mother gives grain, money and jaggery in the name of religion and the burden of sin becomes less.
Sayar: Dai cuts the naal and for cutting she gets nothing. She washes clothes, cuts seventy-two veins (naal) still she does not get anything substantial.

Manohari: There is a story on this and people still believe it. Somebody did not give anything to the Dai for cutting the naal. So Dai takes the naala with her to hell. She keeps the naala in between her teeth and asks the child for neak (ritual gift/money). Child says take it from my mother but the mother also refuses. Then Dai says that I washed your dirty clothes and also cut your seventy-two naala and you gave me nothing so you are in debt and the debt will carry on with me. So now you should return the debt or else I will follow you and will not leave you. On this the mother says that here I have nothing so what can I give you? Bhagwan tells the mother that she should cut her jaangh (thigh) and give and mother gives her thigh and is rescued from the Dai.

Jarau: When Dai goes for delivery then she folds her hand to Bhagwan. If the new mother does not give neak to Dai for cutting the naala then Dai offers prasad (things offered perhaps to Bhagwan or to devils or ancestors), so that the blame on her becomes less.

Manohari: If we do many japaas and cut many naals then the blame on us is too much. All Dai believe this. If the new mother is mature then she herself cuts the naal so that in next birth Dai is not burdened and has less blame.

Before Raj Dai used to cut the naala. She used to do everything for the baby (bathing washing clothes and taking care of the baby). Nayikini(nayak caste) used to be the Raj Dai. Nayakini used to work when kings used to rule. They delivered the babies of the kings and were given neak. They took care of the baby and massaged the new mother till the name was given for the baby. At the time of naming of the babies too, the Dai was given neak. Raj Dai got fixed money of rupees 300-400/ from the government like getting wages. She did Dai' work for the whole village and used to earn her living.

After Raj Dai her Bahu (daughter-in-law) became Raj Dai. If she had two Bahus than the village was divided equally for their service. They used to serve the villages that fell in their share. In a village there could be two Raj Dai. But they were of the same family (with the abolition of princely states this system also got abolished but perhaps for a long time the families of Raj Dai were referred to as Raj Dai. This is what one could gather from the discussion).

Sayar: These days because of our association with Urmul and the training, people think of us as Raj Dai. Because of training people give us nothing after japa. They believe that government is giving us money so how can we also take money from them. Therefore village people do not give neak.

Guddi: We Dai can handle all sort of problems. If a woman is bleeding then the leg side portion of the bed is lifted and the head side is lowered and she stops bleeding. For one woman the baby had come low and she started bleeding. Doctor said that the blood group of husband and wife were not matching and therefore there was bleeding. Dai said that if the blood was not matching then how could she conceive. Then the Dai put a sack below her and paet ki nari daba di pressed a vein of the abdomen and the bleeding stopped.

Manohari: In training we are told to cut the naal after the baby is expelled and not to wait for the anwal to be expelled. We are told that if the woman is to be taken somewhere then it will be a problem with an uncut naal.

But we do not cut. If the baby does not cry or is not breathing then we heat the anwal and make the baby breathe. We do not have any arrangement beside this. If something happens to the baby then that family will spoil our name. They will say, "She thinks she is very smart because of training". Doctors are educated so if they do something then they are not blamed. They have machines and other arrangement and can help the baby breathe. But our hands and feet are tied (our resources are limited).


Manohari: After birth of the baby, woman has pains in the gola(perhaps the pain caused by the involution of the uterus or and the gola is some form of energy, power). Because when the baby is in the womb then bache ka rakshak vo gola hota hai (gola is the protector of the baby). Gola is located beside the baby. After birth gola is left alone so it looks for the baby in the womb. And this gives pain to the new mother. Therefore we immediately give warm seera (halwa, sweet mixture made out of flour, sugar and ghee) to eat and this foments the gola. Warm pot is placed on the abdomen for fomentation. This eases her pain.

Guddi: This is a gola of jama hua khoon (thickened, coagulated, collected blood). It bleeds out in three days and the abdomen is cured.

Manohari: Gola can be felt on touching the abdomen. It gets cured on its own. Some women get lots of pain from gola and some have less pain. If it is very painful then goli is given (the name of the goli was not told & they said that in any medical shop if you ask for gole ki dard ki goli--tablet for the gola pain-- it is given to you). By fomentation however the pain subsides.

Sayar: Besides the gola for jacha , there is a gola in the abdomen of men and women. Everyone has this gola. Pain is below sundi (navel), on the left side. The person suffering from gola pain gets diarrhea. This is called gola parna (to have gola pain). We massage the abdomen and bring the nari at the level of sundi and pull the legs to recover from the pain and diarrhea. The gola of the jacha is different and all jachas suffer from it.

Manohari: After delivery the women is made to stand and the Dai puts her head against the women's abdomen. She takes out all the thickened, coagulated, collected blood (jama hua khoon). This is called kala khoon ( black blood) .Later we make the women sit and put our heel on her shareer (vagina).By this her shareer does not come out.


Manohari: jacha ka shareer bethate hai (they are referring to putting turmeric and ghee on the vagina while pushing the vagina and the uterus back into the woman's body) and then put ghee on the head as this cools the body. The shareer (vagina) is kacha (raw) at this time. First we massage the head and once it cools down then the body relaxes. Afterwards the whole shareer (body) is massaged. In winter, the head is massaged with ghee mixed with black pepper. Pipala mool (some herb) is also mixed with ghee for massage. In summer only ghee is used for massage and nothing is mixed with the ghee. If there is pain in shareer (vagina) then oil massage is done. This is done from the fourth day of delivery because for three days, the woman has bleeding. Its’ only when the bleeding lessens, which is on the fourth day, that massage is done.

Sayar: With a mixture of wheat flour, turmeric and ghee the body of the new mother has to be massaged. By this the woman looks beautiful. This has been the tradition. Woman's hands, back, lower back, everything is massaged. The abdomen is massaged softly and is done in circular motion to set it. This flattens her abdomen. Till the name is given for the baby she does not bathe and at least till then she gets a massage. If some need it after that also then too we massage her. But usually they ask for seven or ten days.

Guddi: By massage her shareer(body) becomes kawala(?) and soft. Pithi(mixture of turmeric, flour and ghee) makes her look beautiful, her complexion clears up. After a bath she looks like a newly wedded bride.

Sayar: The root of Rangjhar is boiled in the water, then the water is cooled a little and the woman is made to sit in that tub. This cleans her sharer (vagina) and also warm fomentation is done on her shareer and protects it from infection. We definitely do it for two-three days. If she has itching in her shareer then we light a fire and then put hair and bhojpath (some herb) in the fire and do dhuni (to give smoke on vagina). This stops the itching. If she gets a tear at delivery then cotton dipped in turmeric and ghee is placed on the shareer. This helps to heal.

Rukma: A woman should rest for at least forty days. Her shareer is raw so she is allowed to go back to work slowly.


Sayar: A woman should have at least ten kilos of ghee. This much is difficult but she should have it. The families make the woman have the amount that they can afford. They try to give her at least a kilo or two.

Manohari: seera (halwa) is the first thing that is given to eat. Milk is given. Ghooti of ghee is given. For three days roti is not given. After three days roti is given. Roti and vegetables are not given because she is eating ajwain and with ajwain, chilies are not supposed to be taken. This may otherwise lead to itching in shareer.

The woman is given gondh ke laddu (sweet balls made out of edible gum). The ingredients for laddu are: 1/2 kg gondh, 1 kg ghee, 1/2 kg flour, 50 gms saunth (dry ginger), 1 coconut, some black pepper, 1/2 kg sugar. You fry gondh in ghee. Half of the fried gondh is ground. Flour is fried and dry ginger is added while frying and then coconut, pepper and gondh is added, sugar is ground and added. This mixture is made into balls. For 45 days the new mother is given these laddoos (balls). Spices and chilis are not given and she is also not allowed to have cold food.


Baimata: Chhati Pujan
Sayar: On the day of chhati, Baimata writes the fate of the baby. Nobody can change what Baimata writes. There is a story. A boy went out to tend the cattle. He saw an old woman. He asked her what she was doing here. She said, " I am Baimata and I write everyone's fate". Then the boy asked her where will I get married? Then Baimata said in one village there is a Brahmin who has a very beautiful daughter. You will sell shoes and you will marry the Brahmins' daughter. The boy said," I make shoes (cobbler, a low caste) how can a Brahmin let his daughter marry me?” The Brahmin was looking for a bridegroom. He could not find a proper groom for his daughter. At that time the same boy was selling shoes in that village. The Brahmins' wife said to marry off the daughter to this boy. And the girl was married to him. So Baimata can write anything in one's fate.

Sayar: On the day of the chhati, the baby is made to wear new clothes (before the baby used to wear no clothes but these days we put old clothes). At 4 p.m. we draw Baimata (Dai drew a Baimata and showed us). Sathiya (Swastik) is made. Put tika (a red mark). Keep wheat or millet. Keep two rotis and four pind and one pindya( roti is broken and this paste is made in oblong shape). With folded hands we pray to Baimata and in our heart we say “Baimata now your work is over so please go back to your house, whatever you did was good.” To Baimata we fold our hands and pay our dhok (obeisance). Then all this is given to a Dai or Savasini(?). Before puja the baby is given a bath and in the water some silver thing is put.

Sun Puja

Guddi: The new mother and the baby are given a bath. The new mother is made to wear a new pila (a yellow chunari). The room is cleaned and mopped. Flower garlands are tied around baby' hands and legs and the baby is made to wear new dress. Pandit (priest) is called, Dai also comes Pandit makes the patari (a first short horoscope to detect negative influences)

Drawing of Chawari

During puja, garuth ( cow urine) is put in a lota (a small metal pot) and khejari's (herb) green stem is put in the lota. If the baby is born in nachhatra (specific planetary position) then 4-5 kilos of wheat are given to daukauth (woman who is given oil and black cloth for appeasing Shani). This averts the weight of the planetary effect on the baby and the family. Gold, iron and ghee is given in daan (alms). On 26th day the name for the baby is given. Rupees fifty-one is given to pandit, neak is also given. Panditji does puja with ghee and sugar. Then jacha also does puja. Pandit ties moli ( red thread )on the new mothers' and baby's hands. The whole house is purified, by sprinkling garuth. jacha pays obeisance to the puja and Dai gives her blessing by patting the new mother. This way her sooya (suthak: The word suthak is used to describe the woman who has just given birth. The word soo means considered filthy so perhaps also referred to the blood that comes out after birth which is considered unclean) also gets over.

Jalwa Puja

Rukma: Once the baby completes forty-five days the mother pays obeisance to the devata (God). She wears new chura (special bangles are worn on auspicious occasions). She ties rakhi (thread tied by sisters on brothers' wrist for taking care of sisters) on the earthen pot. A kalash (brass pot) is kept on top of the earthen pot. Rakhi is tied on kalash also. And it is kept on jachas' head. Then she goes and does puja near the well. The jacha gives milk to the kalash. Dewar (husbands' younger brother) takes down the kalash from her head and he is given coconut as neak. This way jalwa puja is done. On this day relatives and caste group are fed. Clothes and things are sent from jachas' pihar (natal house).

Sathiya Puja

Sathiya (swastik) puja is also done in the morning. Nanad (husbands' younger sister) draws sathiya with cow dung on the wall adjacent to the door of the japa ghar(room where the birth took place). Nanad is given neak.

Manohari: If the baby is fed milk under the canopy (coolness, protection) of the stars then grah (perhaps they are referring to bad affects of the planets) do not affect the baby. Therefore the baby is fed milk the first time only under the shade of the stars be whatever the time of the baby's birth. Nanad cleans woman's breast and is given neak.

Guddi: japa takes place in pihar (natal house) especially the first one. After two months jacha comes to sasural (husbands' house) and brings gaundh ke laddu with her. For everyone Saas, Nanad , Dewar, Dai and other members of the house she brings one laddu for each one and also brings some for herself. Then some laddu is made for jacha in sasural also.

Rukma: It's the jacha ’s mothers' duty to have her daughters' delivery in pihar. By this her daughter gets rest. But jalwa puja is done only in sasural irrespective of the time the new mother spends in pihar 45 days or 60 days. It's only after jalwa puja that the new mother can start her routine chores.
Manohari: This is because after delivery nau mahine ka narak nikalta hai(nine months demonic-unclean "hell" comes out). This is also called narak ka kund (reservoir of the demonic-unclean). After birth the accumulated blood of nine months come out and this stored blood is narak.

The woman goes to her pihar for the birth but she is not sent on eighth month because aath kath hota hai (eight is like wood). If she is sent in eighth month she may have her baby on the way. Eighth month baby do not survive because it is like wood. On seventh month bayasi puja is done at home, Rice and lapasi (gruel made of aata, sugar and ghee) is used for the puja. After this the pregnant woman goes to her pihar.

If a woman goes out during delivery then she is given iron, otherwise bhooth-preth(evil spirits) may catch her and can also kill her. We also keep watch of time because from twelve noon till three o'clock and in the evening after eight is time of bhooth-preth. If the bhooth catches then dora or jantar (magic prayers) or four nails are put in the house.

Bhooth-prethcan also follow the Dai because she returns home at odd hours and also because she puts her hands in sooye (uncleanness of child birth). Therefore families do not let her return at odd hours if it gets very late then she is asked to stay back. Our families understand this.

To protect the baby from nazar (evil eye), Mairuji, Mataji and Kalka Bais' flowers are put around baby's neck. Nani (new mothers' mother) brings a gold flower, puts kadiya (iron bangle) and puts kadori (?) around the waist. The devatas protect the baby if the flowers are put around the neck and the baby is protected from nazar. For taking off the nazar, salt and chili is circulated around the baby seven times and thrown in the angithi.

Discussion after Birth Atlas

Manohari: There are three types of japa. Some woman have chitte(difficult deliveries) japa. For three or four hours women gets mild pains.

Some women get pains at very short intervals and the baby is delivered very fast.
Many times the woman gets mild pains for the whole day. The members of the family, out of fear call a doctor or a nurse. They give sui, the pain increases and are at short intervals and the baby is delivered.

Dai never calls a doctor when woman is getting mild pains. The family members ask the Dai why the woman is getting mild pains. If the birth takes long or if the baby is ulta or aara then doctor is called. Doctor gives tika (injection). Dai never gives tika . Dai says that baby is kudrath ki daen (gift of nature), and birth happens on its own time.

Evening Session

Closing meeting

Madhu: For the past two days we were with the Dai and for three days with health workers. We liked it a lot specially the time that we spent in the workshop. We very carefully heard everything and have collected the information that you gave us. You have told us so much about your skill and culture. We will come again and then we will talk in greater length about your work. Then in third workshop we will give our analysis to you. Then by end of 1999 we will organize a health mela focusing your work.

Bhagwan Kaur: Will you call us?

Deepti: Now we do not know anything but after planning we will know.

Sayar: We liked this workshop. You asked everything from us but how will we benefit from it? How can we get help in terms of money and work? How will our situation improve?

Madhu: Immediately we cannot say anything but the recognition and validation that we are trying for, will slowly, we hope will get you more money and improve your work situation.

Sayar: Half of our life is over like this now.

Deepti: We know that you all have a special knowledge. Therefore we respect you from our hearts. We have tried to know and understand you and will try more the next time when we meet.
(The Dai and the Urmul workers ended the meeting singing and dancing)

Day 3 26.5.98
Morning Session: 8a.m to

Meeting with Urmul members

Deepti: We will talk about goals. What is Matrika's goal in workshop and what is Urmul's goal. This should be very clear so that you can do some work in your area and we can do some work and some we can do together.

Ramratni: How was the workshop?

Deepti: Now lets' make an evaluation of good things and bad things of the workshop. There are some bad things and there are many good things. First, you gave immense cooperation. We could not have done this work without your assistance. In a situation where there is a language problem, we don't know Marwari language, you helped us in translation and documentation and this was very important. Help given by Ramratni, Kanta and Savitri were very important and we will be needing it in the future also.

Even from Dai, whatever we wanted to know was very deep information. We felt that in Urmul you were working according to your traditional systems. You are giving training that is based on the western system so there was a possibility that the Dai would not be able to talk about traditional methods or would not talk deeply about these methods.

But you gave them the permission to talk freely and openly about it so it seems our goal and your goal is the same. In future too we can work together and it will not be limited till the workshop only. On the basis of the information that we are gathering we can do something like what you are saying: a new model for the Dai. We can help prepare that.

In my session in the evening when Dai were sharing their experiences of birth they also talked about their experiences of death. In our country, which is poverty stricken so many deaths occur, "the government" has no understanding of the deep root causes. The government talks of infectious diseases but how changes can be brought about within the state of poverty, on this, the government has done nothing till now. We have to think in this context. For instance, by giving plastic sheets the infectious diseases cannot be wiped out. How much of plastic sheets can be given. They are not appropriate. And there is always this dependence of getting it from someone. Sand soaks up the blood and is not dependent on outsiders.

Satyanarayan: We thought that if we start it once then it will get ingrained in their mind that it is necessary and that plastic sheet is hygienic. We knew that plastic sheet will not work but once the Dai get used to it then they will buy it. They will be forced to think about it.

(The fact that the Urmul people have stopped the tradition of using mitti and have started giving plastic sheet for delivery is discussed. Some spread cloth on top of plastic sheet)

Madhu: There is water problem and the washing of the plastic sheet with water is a big question? I feel that the villagers and the Dai do not even get as much water as you are getting here.

Ramratni and Savitri: There is acute shortage of water and they have to carry water from far off places.

Madhu: How can they clean the plastic sheet or the cloth-sheet in this situation? And the use of plastic sheet has increased Dai' work. In my session the Dai said that the villagers agree on using it if the Dai cleans the plastic sheet. (Uma agreed on this). Therefore Dai work increases. She cleans it for three days then only women agree to spread it. So there is this question of jati if the Dai is from Nayak jati then she will clean it but others will not do it.

Dai talked about the problem of using the plastic sheet openly and it seems that it is a big problem. We are not saying that you (Urmul) have done something wrong. But looking at the extent of the Dai dissatisfaction, we are not able to understand your decision to use the sheets. We can give our opinions, but it is you who have to deal with this problem.

Satyanarayan: We were told by the doctors who came here and by Sunil Kaul that mitti is dirty and women have to be protected so in our mind we thought only of cleanliness. We did not think whether it will be possible to use the sheets or about other problems.

Madhu: A study should be done on the differences caused by what is being used now and what was being used before. What diseases the women have and what they don't have. Last time when we came here then you told us that by spreading mitti the woman gets white discharge.

In March we had gone for a gathering of traditional healers, there women said that in their areas there is a serious problem of white discharge. In some places, like in Bihar, 70-80% women have it (get it specially after first delivery). So in different situations women all over have this problem. Therefore there is some other factor involved too. These organizations are thinking of doing some work on it. White discharge is also because of bacteria. Therefore we cannot conclude that it is only caused by sand. There is a need to see other aspects also like the woman's food intake and other things.

Satyanarayan: It is true that women are reluctant to use plastic sheets. We are facing lot of problem. Dai and the women themselves want to use sand. They have no problem in using the things of Mamta kit. They do not oppose in using the gloves because they find it easy. So what is easy is also easy to impose.

Deepti: It is not just a matter of easy methods but also of faith. The methods in which they have faith and those that can be reasoned out by you and us these they accept. But where they have stronger reasons for continuing their own methods, there is a problem if we cannot reason it out. It is the same with the cutting of the naal also. You gave the reason, as problem of transporting the woman and it is not very convincing.

Satyanarayan: Yes they also cut the naal later, because if something goes wrong then a lot of people to blame her, like, the educated doctors. And if Dai makes mistake then the Dai will be defamed.

Deepti: This is not the only reason. There are reasons for cutting it later and the Dai knows those reasons. She knows that from anwal through naal the blood goes to the baby. If the baby is not breathing then she can warm up the anwal and make the baby breathe. This has been said by Dai of all areas. They also said that doctors have machines through which they can make the baby breathe but they only have this method.

Madhu: They also recognize the fact that it is not to be done for everyone. They said that if a baby turns blue or dies in the womb then there is no use in warming the anwal . It means that they know it.

Deepti: They know a lot and they also have so much experience and our goal is to understand their knowledge.

Satyanarayan: What we tell them about birth during training-- that much they know as per their methods. They need more new information therefore there is a need of a new model.

Madhu: They have an interest in new ideas. Yesterday in the Birth Atlas session they asked why often the fetus gets miscarried within the first three months. If we can explain these kind of queries in simple language then they will definitely get a lot of help.

Satyanarayan: We tell them to go to doctors.

Deepti: While showing the Birth Atlas we can tell them that till third month the baby is not stable and if there is some congenital problem with the baby then it will not stay. Therefore many babies get aborted or miscarried within the first three months. And Dai will understand this.
Satyanarayan: They also say that eighth month baby cannot survive but seventh month can. But they do not give any reason for it.

Madhu: They have their experience and must have seen it happening.

Deepti: There is a need to study, do research on it.

Satyanarayan: We will say (based on western medicine and medical science) that the seventh month baby is weaker then the eighth month baby and therefore will not survive (since the eighth month old baby gets a month more) and the eighth month baby will survive.

Deepti: You have to see their strength that they can save the seventh month baby. In cities doctors keep the babies in the incubator to regulate the temperature.

Satosh: Here they keep the baby rolled in cotton.

Deepti: The main thing is temperature and this they know.

Satyanarayan: And it is not necessary that after spending so much in the hospital the baby would survive. Many children do not survive. And Dai manage to save children whose birth weight is one or two kilos. Therefore some research should be done so that it can be included in the new model.

Ramratni: The new model should also include why there is miscarriage in the third month, the seventh month baby survives but not the eighth month baby. Why women are anemic and what can be done to increase pain.

Madhu: Yes, the Dai were asking that the doctors can give sui or tika (injections) and we cannot give this so what else can we do?

Satyanarayan: We do stop them from giving tika (injection).

Madhu: We want to tell you, for your information that in many villages like yours, tika has reached. In Bihar where we did our workshop and is like your villages there is a relationship between Dai and compounder and Dai immediately ask for injections. It has not reached here at that level.

Ramratni: Here the Dai gets irritated if the nurse comes.

Satyanarayan: This is a question of power and separation. In presence of a doctor, nurse is not asked, and in presence of nurse Dai is not asked for. Nurse comes and gives glucose and sui and it seems that something will happen with these things. Therefore Dai gets irritated with a nurse.

Madhu: It will be a challenge for them and therefore Dai are worried about how they can learn more so that they have an influence.

Deepti: So complete information should be given on sui .We should also understand when and in what condition sui is to be given. How it can harm that is also to be told in detail. It is very common in Bihar and is much more in Delhi. In these areas, even Dai training is being given by government and non-government organizations. In other words, they get the validation for giving sui. But when the sui is to be given is very important. Like Paana said that in one japa the family was asking for tika to be given but the Dai was refusing the whole night because the woman was getting kacha dard and that if tika is given now then bachadani may be damaged. This is correct and if there is a need for sui then it should be given only in pakka dard. The sui (oxytocin or pitocin) immediately increases pains and if administered in kachha dard then it is not safe. This injection was started to expel placenta or to control post partum bleeding but it is being misused.

Ramratni: Here one or two women have died because sui was given at the time of kacha dard.

Madhu: Dai were also saying that we should tell them more about sui because when Dai refuses for sui then families say that nurse is more educated then you and she does not refuse then why do you say no. So we can also help them on this by giving more information on sui.

Deepti: You work in villages so you could keep a note on the deaths during delivery and the reasons for the death. Whether mitti was used or cloth sheet was used or plastic sheet was used? If she was ill and if the illness was the cause of her death. Second, how many cut the naal before the anwal comes out and how many cut after the anwal is out?

Ramratni: Nobody cuts it before everybody cuts it later.

Deepti: Because they have a solid reason behind it. In Bihar, a health workers' Devrani(husbands' younger brothers' wife) died during delivery. We made a detailed report on it and did lot of research on the various reasons that could have caused the death. If something like this happens than write to us. And you too can look into the reasons.

Renuka: Here too there are these kinds of situations and problems. Dai were telling about it.

Deepti: There should be a detailed understanding on maternal deaths.
Ramratni: This will be very good.

Satyanarayan: You send a questionnaire that has probable causes for death. Then the health workers can document properly and can talk with that family.

Deepti: We can do that. One more question, tell us something about the training of the Nirogi Sathees (health workers), how do you do it. May be we can help a little.

Satyanarayan: They spend ten days with some doctor. The main training they get by being in the field. They learn about society and health, poverty and health, reasons for sickness and the major problems of that area. Everyone here is not a Nirogi Sathee. Only the ones who have got training are Nirogi Sathees. They do not have much knowledge on diseases nor do they have the doctors' knowledge but they understand the body fully. They have an understanding of the reasons for illness. Ramratni, Savitri, Uma, Paana Bai are Nirogi Sathees and will work with you in future also.

Deepti: Nirogi Sathees, tell us about your experience of this workshop?

Uma: Dai were saying that little bit naal is cut and made into tabeez (amulet) and if the baby wears it then the baby does not suffer from pneumonia or breathing problem or uprala. How does this happen and is this right or wrong?

Satyanarayan: Like we put tikasimilarly this is their faith.

Uma: If naal is crushed and given to drink to a woman who is not having babies then that woman has a baby. The womb starts functioning.

Madhu: We have to understand this. But without understanding it we should not say that it is wrong or irrelevant.

Deepti: Many things have an effect depending on our psychological beliefs and faith.

Santosh: Many times, Dai trouble poor people for money and I feel bad about it and I have a different opinion on this with the organization.

Ramratni and Satyanarayan: Dai is also poor.

Santosh: I feel then what is the difference between the Dai and the doctor? If the woman is dying and the Dai says that without rupees 100/ I am not going to touch you?

Satyanarayan and Ramratni: Dai knows that she is not going to get therefore she says this.
Ramratni: Village people say, why is she taking money from here or we will not give you because you are getting from the Urmul Trust.

Uma: It came out in our session too but it is not true. They get incentive for using Mamta kit (things to be used during delivery, given by Urmul Trust). And different amount is given like for using plastic sheet Rs. 25, for using gloves Rs. 5 etc. If everything in the Manta Kit is used then she gets Rs. 75 but money is deducted for the things that have not been used. Like if plastic sheet is not used and mitti is used then Rs. 25 is deducted and she gets Rs. 50 only. Similarly it is for other things.

Madhu: Dai talked about it in detail and I felt very good that they could openly speak on it.

Savitri: Satyanarayanji gave them the permission therefore they spoke otherwise they would not. Satyanarayanji has lot of influence on them.

Madhu: This is right and because of this we got lot of help and we felt very good.

Savitri: We also liked it.

Ramratni: What I liked most was nothing was imposed on them and Dai were heard. Their problems have come out. What are the problems in spreading the mainia(plastic sheet), money problems and other problems. We liked it from all angles.
(The meeting ended with this)

Birth Songs Documented During Rajasthan Workshop

Hari Hari Mirch

Hari hari mircha mangwao ji
Piya mera man hari hari mircha par
Haton se thorigi mircha mai nahi khaun
Sonare chitiye turwao
Ji piya mera man hari hari mircha par

Dekchi main chukeri main nahi khau
Hatheli main chamko lagwao
Ji piya mera man hari hari mircha par

Boliye main thorigi main nahi khaun
Choti choti pallu main turwayo
Ji piya mero man hari hari mircha par

Get for me green, green chilies
Dear husband, I have a desire for green, green chilies
I will not have chilies plucked by hand,
Get them plucked with golden tongs
Dear husband, I have a desire for green, green chilies

I will not have the ones, which are seasoned in dekchi
Get them seasoned by your hands
Dear husband, I have a desire for green, green chilies
I will not have chilies plucked in the shade
Get tiny chilies plucked, and gather in the pallu
Dear husband, I have desire for green, green chilies

Mahro Teen Din Ko Gigalo

Mahro teen din ro gigalo
Bo daure daure dada ke jaye
Gigo loti re
Huko liyo khos
Chilam di phor
Gigo loti re

Mero sano hua to samjhau
Balak na samjhe
Gigo loti re
Mahro teen din ro holariyo
Bo daure dadi ji ka jaye
Gigo loti re

Dadi ji chilori di phor
Matki le khos
Gigo loti re
Mero sano hua to samjhau
Balak na samjhe ra
Gigo loti re
Mero sano hua to samjhau
Balak na samjhe
Gogi loti re

My three day old Gigo (boychild)
Runs to his grandfather.
Gigo is playing
He snatches the hukka (waterpipe).
He breaks the chilam (an earthen funnel in the hukka in which burnt ash is kept)
Gigo is playing.

If he was grown up then I could make him understand
Baby cannot understand
Gigo is playing
My three day old holariyo (boychild)
Runs to his dadi
Gigo is playing

He snatches the matki (pot)
He breaks dadi's pot of ghee
Gigo is playing
If he was grown up then I could make him understand
Baby cannot understand
Gigo is playing.

Gigla (Song about children)

Giga angan main gindi khele
Chauk main footbal khele
Pani bharne jaun to giga yun kahe
Mahane godi le lo
Giga angane main gindi khele hai
Chaunk main footbal khele hain
Roti pouen to giga yun kavah maine godi le lo
Chakle ki aisi maru maar
Giga rowat dole

Mahala jaun to giga yun kavah
Mahine godi le lo
Takiye ki aisi maru maar
Gigo rowat dole

Giga plays with a ball in the courtyard,
Plays football in the compound
When I go to fill water then Gigo says
Take me on your lap

Giga plays with a ball in the courtyard
Plays football in the compound
When I make roti then he says
Take me on your lap
I hit him hard with the chakla (wooden plate on which roti is made)
Gigo sheds tears

When I go to the palace then Gigo says
Take me on your lap
Then I hit him hard with the pillow
Gigo sheds tears.


Gigalo ke dado ji disawar chalya
Mahare gige tani laya re churi ko bajo
Aliya bajay giga galiya bajay
Chanaj Chauk main bajawe churi ke bajo
Gig ko dado ji disawar chalya
Mahare gige tani laya re churi ko bajo
Aliya bajay giga galiya bajay
Rang mahal main bajay re churi ko bajo

Child's grandfather had gone to the bazar.
For my child he brought a baja (musical instrument) made of bangles
He plays the baja here, he plays the baja on the streets
Plays the baja at the crossroads, the baja made of bangles

Child's grandfather had gone to the bazar.
For my child he brought a baja of bangles
He plays the baja here, he plays the baja on the streets
He plays the baja in the Rang mahal (palace of colour), the baja of bangles

Peela (Birth songs about the yellow chunni)

Dilli sahar su sayeba poth manga de
jacha na peelo bait ka ranga do
Alla to palla sahambakaur jarwade
Beech chandi ko chand chipa de

Pilo to orhr mahri jacha
Paat par baithi
Sasu to Nanad to mukhra moriyo
Kaun mahari Saas Nanadon mukhro moriyo
Peelo to layo meri ma ko jayo
Peelo to orhr sarwar chali
Puro to sahar sarayo
Manmariya peelo baith rangate
Peelo to orhr mahalan par gayi kauch najaran re najar lag gayi
Dilli shahar su sayab vaid bulao
jacha magar diko do

Sardi na lagi jacha
Garmi na lagi
Thari to nari tenar ga re
Tu to vaid ka beta baro badmas

Saheb! (respectful term for husband)
Get me a poth (yellow scarf worn at celebrations like birth and marriage) from Delhi city
Get jacha (pregnant or postpartum woman) a peelo
On jachas peelo you get motifs embroidered.
Get a whole story embroidered on it
In the middle of it put a silver moon

Our jacha wears this peelo
Sits on the stool
Sasu and Nanad turn their faces (with jealousy)
Why are my Saas and my Nanad turning their faces?
This Peelo was brought by my mother-in-law's son

I wear peelo and go to the pond
The whole town praises my peelo
My dear husband sat and got my peelo colored

I wear the peelo and go to the palace
And I get somebody' nazar
Call a vaid (Ayurvedic doctor) from Delhi city
Show the jacha and cast off the nazar
Vaid: You are not cold, nor are you hot
Your pulse is fine
jacha : Son of Vaid, you are a big badmash (scoundrel)


Wife: Mahara sela maru naukari shichavo
ajwain mahane kun lasi ho raaj
Husband: ajwain mahara bhai ji lasi
Mola si ho raaj
Wife:The mahara sehala maru naukari shicha va
ajwain mahana kun jama si ho raaj

Husband:Ho raaj ajwain mahara mataji jamasi
Wife:Ho raaj thari re mataji ka kya bharosa
Jamawata, khidansi, gori dhanro jiv nahi
Patij sho raaj
Husband:Ye mahari gori dhanediyo janam mo
Chalriya janam mo, ajwain thane jhala ja
Ab maharo jiv pati jo

Woman: You are going away for work, dear husband of mine,
Who will get ajwain for me, my dear?
Husband: My brother will get it, my dear,
I have faith in him, my dear,
Woman: You are going out for work, dear husband of mine,
Who will prepare ajwain for me, my dear?
Husband: My mother will prepare it for you, my dear,
Woman: How can I trust your mother, my dear,
I will not get any to eat, my dear,
She will not prepare it, but will spread it and waste it.

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