Goddess of Birth and Childcare
The Goddess of Childbirth or Zhu Sheng Niang Niang is a fertility deity in the Taoist patheon. She is worshipped by the Hokkien and Teochew community and her birthday is celebrated on 20th day of the 3rd lunar month. See her birthday celebration in Taiwan.
Mentioned in the Ming dynasty work Creation of the Gods (封神榜), Goddess of Birth and Childcare is in charge of pregnancy, delivery of infant, protection of mother and child. She holds a book and a brush reflecting the Chinese practise of recording new born child in the family lineage records.
Many temples have a shrine dedicated to her in one of the side halls and she may sometimes appear together with other goddess of fertility.
Women who hope to have children or these who are productivity challenged pray to her for help in conceiving and safe delivery.
Human desire to procreate
The Goddess symbolise human desire to procreate and safe delivery and these desires transcends over time.
In ancient times, when reproductive knowledge and technologies were limited, couples who wanted children can only pray to the goddess for blessing. Similarly, when healthcare is very basic, childbirth can be dangerous to both mother and child and again people had only the goddess of childbirth to turn to for help.
Today medical science has progressed tremendously to ensure the safety of both mother and child during prenancy and delivery. But that as not eradicated the Goddess’s role or importance. What has changed is the nature of help but essentially still revolving the same issues of conceiving and child birth.
Science despite its progress still has its limitations. In-vitro treatment for example can increase the chances of pregnancy but cannot promise successful conception. Many women pray to the goddess of child birth during their in-vitro treatment.
IV or not, many women continue to pray to goddess of child birth for her blessings to conceive a child and safe delivery.
Mind and body
Medical researchers have increasing point to the complex relationship between mind and body. Praying to the goddess of childbirth and having that faith in her, therefore has scientific basis in boosting pregnancy chances.
Be it science or faith, the Goddess of Birth and Childcare relates to women's aspiration to have a child and to be able to experience the joys of motherhood, caring, loving and nurturing their new born.