Pin It
Monday, February 28th, 2011

The 120 Days of Children’s Souls

pregnancy_rituals/ global_citizens/ matttilda -

It was the summer of 1998 and I was lounging in the passenger seat of my friend’s car. Spots of sunlight touched us as we made our way through the winding road of trees. I looked up at the bright green, waving leaves and was suddenly struck by the most vivid vision I had ever experienced. Smiling green eyes looked down at me from a round little face, framed by very straight strawberry blond hair. My breath caught and my heart swelled and as quickly as she had appeared, she was gone. My parents had always told me that the souls of children and parents choose one another, and I believed that such a profound experience had just occurred. For years I was left to wonder when she would come. Who would her father be?


When my husband and I joyfully discovered we were pregnant, her image reappeared in my mind as it had many times since that day. I almost didn’t dare hope if this was she. My husband and I both have green eyes but dark brown hair, and it was hard to imagine us having a light-haired child.


There is a belief common in several Eastern traditions where it is said that the soul of the unborn child enters the body on the 120th day of pregnancy. I believe that before that time, the soul’s consciousness drifts between the physical and ethereal plane, visiting and acclimating to the body and family it has chosen. In my local Sikh community, the 120th day of pregnancy is a big celebration. Not only are the festivities attended by the immediate family but also many members of the larger community, the Sangat, gather to welcome the new soul. This baby is not simply embraced by the family but by the whole community.


Our 120th day fell on a charming summer day. My in-law’s house was filled with people dressed in their finery. The little pink and gold flowers on the long kurta shirt of my new salwar kameez were slightly stretched, the fabric satisfyingly tight around my middle. Our family had prepared all day, cooking and setting up. My mother-in-law had built, as is the tradition, a little throne of pillows and silks for me, where I sat in meditation facing the crowd and chanting along with everyone. Flowers flanked each side of my throne and perfumed the air with a spicy tang. The day had grown stormy and electricity filled the air, raising the hairs on my arms and my anticipation of being a parent. We all chanted and sang Mantras to welcome our new soul. I opened one eye to peek out at everyone sitting serenely and I thought my heart would drive away the storm clouds as I noticed my husband’s expression of joy and pride. It was very powerful to realize that so many wonderful people had come to welcome our new little one.


After the chanting, the meal was served and I received many gifts. The presents on the 120th day are intended to soothe the mother-to-be and make her feel more comfortable and pampered throughout the pregnancy. Among the generous gifts were lovely scented creams and perfumes, silk scarves, bangles and a delicate silver pendant. Yes…pretty nice! Sikhs usually have a baby shower as well, but often closer to the due date.


Our little daughter Amrita arrived almost hairless, with the whitest eyelashes and no eyebrows. I watched as every lash grew in and the arches above her grey eyes began to take shape. It was like watching a Polaroid picture come into color very, very slowly. Amrita’s eyes turned green, her strawberry blond hair flowed long and smooth across her slender shoulders. And one day, I found myself smiling back at the same face I had held in my mind and heart for so long.


© 2011 – 2012, Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:

The African Guide to Co-sleeping

10 must-read tips on co-sleeping from Africa

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’


Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa was raised in New York and Amsterdam. She is a filmmaker and writer, and a co-founder of SeeThrough Films and Prana Projects. Alessandra lives in Santa Fe, NM, with her daughter Amrita, stepson Siri and her husband Ditta. Their approach to parenting draws on their backgrounds of Sikh tradition and yogic technology.

Leave us a comment!

  1. CommentsAnjali   |  Wednesday, 16 March 2011 at 11:32 am

    This was beautiful. I had a similar experience with my third child.

  2. CommentsAlexandra   |  Friday, 18 March 2011 at 6:43 am

    This post gave me goose bumps. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience.

  3. CommentsUrsula Ferreira   |  Friday, 18 March 2011 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for the beautiful story! A friend of mine who is a Sikha had a beautiful image and experience of her little one coming in on the 120th day. What magical souls each babe is!

  4. Commentsjasleen kaure.   |  Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 9:51 am

    this is interesting, but it’s not Sikhi. the Sikh scriptures teach that the soul resides in the womb, engaged in meditation, for 10 months. there’s no mention of 120 days in any Sikh scripture.

    it’s an interesting tradition though. i believe the 120 days idea has it’s roots in islam, where abortion is only haram (forbidden) after the 120th day.

  5. CommentsBaby Dreams « Wanna-Be Parents   |  Friday, 25 March 2011 at 11:52 am

    […] this post, the author talks about having a vision of her future baby while lounging on her friend’s […]

  6. CommentsAraceli   |  Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 7:57 am

    Could you share more information with me or direct me to another source, please?
    I’d like to learn more about the symbols and items used in this welcoming party for the baby’s soul. I am pregnant and want to have a welcoming ritual and celebration for my baby on my 120th day, which will be around Halloween.
    Please contact me! I will really really appreciate it!
    Thanks so much!

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

More The Religious Life of Children