The cultural values, traditional rituals and norms of a society are what make every society unique. Despite the religious and clan differences traditional rituals are practiced equally by every member of that particular society. Majority of the traditional rituals practiced by the Tigre and Tigrinya ethnic groups are similar and the society accepts and practice those rituals without any doubt or question. In view of such practices, this article tries to view some traditional rituals practiced in treating pregnant women.
A pregnant woman especially after the 6th month of her pregnancy is forbidden to do any of the house chores considered too tiring for her to perform, she also has to eat and drink only the best.
According to tradition and local beliefs, in order to avoid miscarriages, pregnant women are forbidden to eat the meat and drink milk of gray skinned cattle, they are also protected from coming across goats called mese’e by the society, and the pregnant woman is also not allowed to eat the meat and butter, drink the milk of such goats. A pregnant woman is also forbidden to step on or pass over the waste of those gray skinned animals. In times, where the pregnant woman violates such traditions, she has to tie the hair of the gray skinned animal on her hand or taste the waste of those animals with the tip of your tongue and apply the butter produced from those animals to her hair. If the pregnant woman can’t have the above mentioned materials, she will send a broken ceramic to a shepherd that owns such animals so as he will give her butter produced from such an animal.
In order to protect the unborn child from having a spotted skin, the mother is protected from coming across cattle with black and white skin, and if she by any incident comes across to such an incident the pregnant woman will eat the meat of dead animal or a wild animal. In times where the above mentions meat of animal is not available, the mother is obligated to eat from a leftover of any animal.
The Tigre society in Hirgigo forbid pregnant women from eating honey due to their belief that since honey is made from various plants it might cause harm to the unborn child. Lightening is considered as a bad omen as a pregnant woman witnessing a lightening has to paint her forehead black using coal head and umbilical cord to protect the child and herself.
The husband of a pregnant woman is also forbidden from attending funerals and killing a snake. A stranger is not allowed to enter the room the pregnant woman before drying or washing his/her sweat. She gets her own water and addition no one is allowed to drink from it. A pregnant lady is not allowed to attend any kind of social gatherings like funerals and weddings.
The Tigre of Mensa’e, around Debre Sina and Geleb, practice during the 5th to the 7th month of the pregnancy, in-laws of the pregnant woman will come to her house and prepare porridge. In this occasion the women prepare two porridges, the first wives in the family will eat the first porridge with the pregnant woman sitting next to the pregnant woman while the rest eat the second porridge sitting separately. If the porridge prepared is one, the first wives in the family will eat the porridge with the pregnant woman sitting on the bed while the rest eat from the porridge sitting on the floor.
After eating the porridge the pregnant woman prays over the plate where the porridge was served, and moves it to the ladies around her: the ladies will put all their jewelry on the plate. After each lady takes turn on putting her jewelry, the plate is returned to the pregnant woman, where she gives back the jewelry to the respective owner. Then the ladies will ululates seven times wishing the unborn child to be a boy, and finally wishing and blessing the pregnant woman to have an easy delivery, they will leave the house.
The husband of a pregnant woman is obliged to slaughter a goat or a sheep, the animal is slaughtered outside the house while another person holds a stick and a stewing stick over the animal. The stick is symbolizing the unborn child to be a boy and the stewing stick to a girl, and after the animal is slaughtered the sticks are given to the pregnant woman by the husband. The husband should have the stick on his right hand and the stewing stick on his left and hand over the sticks to his wife without putting them on the ground.
Those traditional practices have no scientific explanation whatsoever, but have been practiced by the society and have been protecting the pregnant woman from harm and helpful in having an easy delivery. There are also other rituals practiced during and after delivery of the baby.