The powerful placenta and cord are traditionally considered potent substances that can be misused by bad people who perform jadu tona or black magic that can harm people. The placenta and cord, and birth itself, are understood as substances and times when the spirit world is active.
Dais are entrusted to negotiate this world and protect against negative forces. They are the guardians of fertility….and in Jharkhand are even sometimes called to the marriages of those whose birth they attended…passing on the blessings of fertility.
For this reason the placenta was usually buried to protect it from people and also from animals. But it was buried with reverence honoring its life-producing power.
From Jharkhand we heard “the placenta is offered a fist of grain, two knots of
tumeric, sindur, three to five pieces of dub ghaas, hotoki phal (harad) and a flower. And we take out a shubh dhwani from our mouth according to Bengali tradition. Then in the same house where the birth has taken place, next to the mother’s cot, a hole is dug and the placenta is buried. The hole is filled with earth and plastered over with goober.
In Jharkhand, repeatedly, we heard that how the placenta is buried affects the timing of the next child.
While burying the placenta in the earth if it is buried upside down, with the cord below, that woman would not have more babies. If it is buried with the c ord up then again she would have children. The woman who had the baby, if she wishes that her next baby should be born after a gap then the dai digs the pit in the corner of the room deep till her wrist and then buries the phool in that. By doing so next baby would be conceived late, after a gap. If it is buried in a shallow pit then next baby would be conceived soon and in 1 or 11/2 years she would get her next baby. Meera Sahis