Birth rites and rituals
For Omanis the birth of a child is an important social occasion in which the whole family gathers, gifts are made and congratulations are conveyed. It is customary to put money into the swaddling clothes of the newborn. The young mother takes her infant on visits to her parents’ house, where everyone gets involved in the happy event.
Some of the rituals surrounding the birth of a child have a religious basis.
Immediately after the birth of the child, chewed dates are rubbed on the baby’s gums, the call to prayer is whispered in the right ear, and a prayer for protection against the devil is whispered in the left ear, as instructed by the Prophet.
On the seventh day after birth the baby’s head is shaved, the hair is weighed and a donation of silver is made of the equivalent weight. In addition, for a baby boy two animals are slaughtered; for a baby girl, one. On that day the child receives his or her name, and the family gathers for a special meal, the nasika.
It is on this day that Muslim boys should be circumcised. In Oman it is required that circumcision take place in a hospital. Female circumcision is prohibited by law.
Following an old custom in Oman, for each newborn son a date palm is planted. It slowly grows to become the child’s personal tree. Because a date palm lives about as long as a person it can keep its owner from starvation. It is a traditional form of life insurance.