Arch Dis Child 89:1094-1097 doi:10.1136/adc.2004.050591
  • Leading article

Hindu birth customs

  1. A R Gatrad1,
  2. M Ray2,
  3. A Sheikh3
  1. 1Manor Hospital, Walsall, UK; Hon Professor Paediatrics University of Kentucky, USA
  2. 2Manor Hospital, Walsall, UK
  3. 3Division of Community Health Sciences: GP Section, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A R Gatrad
    Manor Hospital, Moat Road, Walsall WS2 9PS, UK;

    Marriage, pregnancy, and birth rituals

    Many expectant mothers have fears and anxieties about their pregnancy. For Hindu pregnant women, these general concerns may be compounded by difficulties in communicating with healthcare professionals. It is our aim in this paper to provide clinicians with a basic understanding of Hindu birth customs in the hope that such appreciation will go some way to facilitating provision of culturally competent and sensitive care.

    In their excellent paper Webb and Sergison1 defined cultural competence as an evolving process that depends on self-reflection, self-awareness, and acceptance of differences. They further explain that such competence is based on improving understanding as opposed to an increase in cultural knowledge. While fully concurring with their views we would argue that knowledge of cultural context can be helpful in providing a prototype (as opposed to a stereotype) of factors which may be important in the provision of patient centred care.

    Hinduism—one of the oldest world religions dating back to around 1500BC—originates from around the Indus Valley2 in what is now Pakistan. Scriptures were originally written in Sanskrit, a language in which most Hindus of today are no longer literate, and therefore customs over the years have tended to be passed on by word of mouth. Almost 14 centuries ago, many Hindus converted to Islam and 600 years ago Sikhism was founded as an “off shoot” of Hinduism. It is therefore unsurprising that not only have original Hindu customs been diluted over the years but that the practises of other religious customs found within South Asia have intertwined with remnants of Hindu teachings. However we have not encountered any consanguineous marriages among Hindus in the UK, a practice common among Muslims the world over.3

    Hindus believe in a “transcendent” God who may be worshipped in a variety of …

    Responses to this article