The First Cry

Baby Showers, naming ceremonies, modern festivities are ways people who live in urban societies often celebrate the birth of a child. But even today, people in many Asian countries practice traditional ways of welcoming the newborn – in culturally unique and interesting ways – stemming from old traditions that are still practiced in communities across Asia. The four-part series The First Cry features some of the unique customs associated with the birth of a child in Indonesia, India, Philippines and in some communities in Singapore.


Genre: Factual, Culture
Language: English
Year: 2013

Duration: 4 episodes  x 30 Mins
Territory/Rights available: Worldwide
Formats Available: –
Show Format: HD
Produced by: Verite Productions


The earth is the focus of the rituals in this episode. Balinese babies are not allowed to touch their feet to the ground until they are three months old. This is when their parents conduct the Nyabutan ceremony and the baby touches the ground for the first time.


In the thick forests of Mindanao, Philippines, blood flows thick – and not only due to political conflict. The rituals for newborns in the Subanon tribe involve blood and some of them are conducted under the cover of darkness.


Water and cleansing is the focus of this episode in the desert state of India, Rajasthan. Women who have just given birth need to go through a ritual to cleanse them before they can enter the kitchen again or draw water from the village well.


Minority communities in Singapore sometimes find it hard to conduct their traditional birth rituals here. Like Armenian father Eric Margaryan who is waiting for a priest to visit Singapore before he can baptise his daughter. In another community, the North-East Indian Assamese, friends step into the role of family to help with ritual preparation and roles traditionally reserved for members of the family.