The Postpartum Tradition of Sawa Mahina in Rural Punjab, Pakistan

Azher Hameed Qamar

Abstract


The Punjabi postpartum tradition is called sawa mahina (‘five weeks’). This study investigates infant health care belief practices in rural Punjab and looks at the social significance of infant care beliefs practiced during sawa mahina. During six months of fieldwork, using participant observation and unstructured interviews as primary research methods, the study explored the prevalent postpartum tradition from a childcare perspective. A Punjabi child holds a social value regarding familial, religious, and emotional values. The five-week traditional postpartum period provides an insight into mother–child attachment, related child care belief practices, and the social construction of infancy. A child’s agency is recognised in the embodied mother–child relationship, and a child is seen in a sympathetic connection with the mother. Establishing an early foundation of ascribed identities is another important part of postpartum belief practices.


Keywords


postpartum tradition; social construction of infancy; sawa mahina; infant care belief practices; mother–child sympathetic connection

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/jef-2017-0008

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ISSN (print) 1736-6518. ISSN (online) 2228-0987. JEF is a joint publication of the University of Tartu, the Estonian National Museum and the Estonian Literary Museum.