Well, when it is your birthday and your day probably begins with jingling birthday wishes that light up your phone every once in a while. There is a surprise birthday party or a bash you organize yourself. There is the cake, the snacks, the music and some merry time with your loved ones.
However, this form of celebration though fun is nonetheless essentially a western concept. It is no secret that Indians like to celebrate. The Republic of India has documented everywhere the planet as a rustic of endless cultural and ancient festivals and celebrations. Why ought to birthdays be something less? Birthdays in the Republic of India area unit an extremely huge deal and therefore the chance to pack in the maximum amount of celebration as potential isn’t taken as a right. Birthday rituals take issue slightly across the country and area unit distinctive to completely different regions. though several ancient ritual area units slowly dying out with modernization, above all inside the urban Republic of India, several area units are still discovered nowadays. The traditional Indian way of welcoming one’s birthday is quite different and unique and is still followed in many parts of the country.
A typical traditional birthday morning begins with a visit to the temple. Almost all cultures and religions that exist here believe in seeking blessings from the almighty as a very important ritual of birthday celebrations. This is a notable feature of the collective Indian culture. Where to embark on anything new, important, or joyous by first kneeling to the divine for thankfulness and prayers. This understanding is passed from one generation to another. It is a deep-rooted philosophy that in many ways humbles and revolves around the realm of spirituality.
In many Hindu homes, an aarti is prepared, with lighted diyas arranged on a silver tray, and is encircled over the birthday boy or girl. Rice smeared with turmeric is applied on the forehead. Prayers or pujas are also held especially on birthdays to ask the Gods for longer life, health and success. In many Muslim homes, a visit to the dargah or offering of chadars (netted flowers or material strewn carefully over the holy tomb) is a common practice.
Sometimes, coconut or dry fruits are laid out on a tray. They are encircled over the birthday boy or girl, very much like an aarti, to ensure that all ill-effects are waded away. Similarly, different regions and religions perform specific spiritual rituals and deem it the most important way to begin the birthday.
Like youngsters in most cultures, birthdays square measure the most event of the year and cause abundant excitement. At school, kids in India square measure the center of attention on their birthdays, dodging their college uniforms for a fashionable, brilliantly colored outfit. the full outfit is sometimes fresh and worn for the primary time on their birthday. This is often followed by distributing sweets in the school and having the whole class sing for the birthday boy/girl.
Reaching out to the Needy
Another very interesting way of celebrating is to give and reach out to the less fortunate on birthdays. This may not essentially be only an Indian concept and is followed by many people across the globe. It is common practice in traditional birthday celebrations to give food, clothes, or money to the needy and poor. Usually, this is done to distribute food outside temples or give money to domestic helpers. Visiting an orphanage or shelter and spending time with the inmates is another way.
On deeper thought, it may be assumed that our elders sought to teach us that birthdays are more fulfilling when we try giving. Helping others and elevating ourselves to think beyond our existence alone. Also, the idea of sharing the joy with those who are less fortunate is a wonderful way to keep a check on growing arrogance. Inculcating traits of compassion. It also reminds us in today’s times, that on an occasion when you feel on top of the world, the best way to sustain and enhance that feeling is to make another lesser person’s day better by helping them. In some cultures, such as with the Parsi community planting a tree is deemed to be extremely auspicious on one’s birthday.
The differences between Indian and Western Celebrations
So does this mean that modern western ways of celebrating one’s birthday are not a welcome addition to our already diverse culture? Well no! However, many subtle differences pop up between our traditional methods and modern ways. Simple examples, such as lighting candles and diyas on one’s birthday as opposed to blowing off candles on birthday cakes. It is believed that blowing off the light means cutting short life and diminishing success. On one hand, cakes are cut using knives. However, many traditional religions and cultures are averse to the idea of using any sharp object to celebrate birthdays.
Surprisingly, though traditional celebrations lay importance on the spiritual, philosophical, and soul-stirring moments. It also encourages spending time with family and friends, have lavish birthday platters prepared, frolic, fun, and laughter. We all know that as we were growing up, though there were no parties on each of our birthdays like our mothers and grandmothers toiled endlessly in the kitchen to make delightful assortments and opulent meals, most of our likings. The whole household would be working since morning for the grand party that was to be held in the evening. The concept of celebrating one’s birthday with pomp though is restricted by some sects of religious groups. Overall, traditional birthday celebrations are no less festive than modern-day parties. There is food, calling over friends and family, an inflow of gifts and merriment.
Well it is your birthday and your phone may be jingling, your party planned and your mood upbeat, but take a while to bite into the sweet ladoos during aarti, say a short prayer, and help someone needy. After which you deserve a great party. Happy Birthday!