THE CUSTOM OF SOOTHING THE ABDOMEN
According to Malay customs, when a woman is into the seventh month of her pregnancy the custom of soothing the abdomen is performed on her by the midwife, a custom not compulsory according to Islam. This soothing ceremony is to save the woman who is on her first pregnancy.
The essential tools are as the following:
- Blessed water and kaffir lime;
- Seven copper jars carved at the sides and filled with water;
- Coconut leaves woven into animal shapes placed at the side of the jars;
- A good coconut, peeled of its husk and its shell shaven;
- Seven pieces of threads to be plaited and made into a string, grilled rice, turmeric, jerangau (a type of herb) leaves, and seven rings tied to the pregnant woman waist for seven days;
- Seven pieces of cloths in different colours, if possible;
- Betelleaves and betel nut;
- Money to confirm the deal in an amount of five quarters that is RM1.25 placed in a betel leaf container;
- Sintuk leaf; and
- Raw egg.
The midwife spreads the seven pieces of cloths across on the mattress to the length of the pregnant woman spinal chord. The woman is then laid on the cloths and massaged with oil by the midwife. Then the coconut is rolled slowly from the top and down the woman abdomen for seven times.
On the seventh times the coconut is let rolling down. When it stops the midwife then predicts the baby gender by the position of the coconut eyes. It is said that if the coconut eyes face upward then the baby would be a boy, and vice versa if the coconut eyes face downward.
Then, with one hand holding the coconut, the midwife turns the woman on her sides and concurrently pulls away the cloths one by one. The midwife takes the cloths wih the coconut, resin, betel leaves and betel nut, as well as the money.
The woman is next bathed with the sintuk leaf encircled by the midwife and seven other women. Then, the raw egg is placed inside the woman bathing attire and let it fall down afterwhich it is stepped on by the woman before she dons beautiful clothing for the feast.
The cuisines for this custom are turmeric rice, chicken curry and grilled chicken. It is said that when cooking the turmeric rice its taste cannot be savoured. A plate of the turmeric rice is given to the midwife while the remnant is served to the guests.