“The Bengali swad (taste or longing) revolves around a lunch, and is held in the ninth month of pregnancy. This ritual originated in an age when childbirth was a potentially dangerous process with no certainty of the mother’s survival. It was a way of ensuring that the pregnant mother had no unfulfilled wish – for food, clothes or jewellery – before she went into labour. It was also a way of making sure that she was well fed and strengthened for childbirth.
The expectant mother wears an elaborate new sari and jewellery given to her for the occasion by the swad’s hostess (the mother, mother-in-law or an aunt). Specially prescribed food – including a cooked fish’s head – one of the most auspicious foods in the Bengali tradition, five types of fried food, including banana fritters – the banana is also auspicious and a mixture of vegetables called shuktois – is set out in front of her on a huge silver platter. The first mouthful that she takes has to include a pinch of everything on the platter and as she puts it into her mouth, the conch shells blow alerting the Gods that the swad has begun and a future mother is now under their care. The mother’s meal ends with payesh, a sweetened dish of rice and condensed milk.” – from Celebrating Pregnancy
Thanks to my mother-in-law who made sure all of my wishes were fulfilled and for not serving a cooked fish’s head.