Be it Kids or grown-ups, each one of us gets excited with that one word “Birthdays”, Don’t we? That one phrase “it’s your birthday around the corner” gets that energy within all age group of people. Undoubtedly birthdays are fun and exciting when all your loved ones make you feel special and give you all that attention you eagerly wait for year long.
Well in India, if you ask your grandparents on which date they were born, they probably may not have an answer. They may tell you a relative date (like 5 days before/after Janmashtami or any festival/tithi). Earlier times, if it’s someone’s birthday at home, the mother at home used to prepare his/her favourite sweet and it would be relished sitting along with the whole family. This indeed had the real sense of celebration.
Birthdays in 90’s..
Unlike the present custom of Birthdays in India, moving back to olden times, I remember waking up in the morning, applying oil to hair, having a pleasant bath with turmeric and Chandan on body and wearing new clothes (was the most exciting thing of all). Praying to God for good health, taking blessings from all the elders in the house by touching their feet, receiving little gifts as blessings gave the level of satisfaction that no expensive present could give.
In the evening we would invite some very close family members, spending time with cousins was the most exciting moment. Relishing food and desserts with them would double the happiness. And this is how the day would end. The memories would remain until the next birthday and it is remembered even today.
Is celebration of birthday Foreign culture and not Indian culture?
Birthdays in 21st Century have become an event to show off luxury and less of celebrating happiness. An Event management company is hired to plan and organize an “Theme Party”, which includes a customized cake, a Guest list of people you are not even in contact with, a Cuisine with of which half of the food is going to be wasted, money spent on return gifts will be more than the gifts you receive and that’s tagged as a perfect Birthday Celebration when you upload pictures on Social Media handles. The level of happiness is measured on the count of likes and comments received by the picture you upload!!
Was this our culture around 10 years back? Does this literally make us happy? Apart from all these questions is this Indian Culture? Or was this adopted from Western Culture?
We never had a practice of cutting a Cake and blowing candles before 20th century. Did we? We light the lamp or a Diya, in symbolic to beginning of a new year or moving towards darkness to light, but now we blow candles off and cut the cake. According to Hinduism, blowing off candles is a Sign of Negativity and bad luck to the one doing it. It is about discouraging the brightness coming into his/her life.
Today, we have completely adopted the western method of celebrating birthdays by leaving aside our own culture. Why adopt Western Culture while our own country is dipped with deep roots of Culture and Tradition of its own. Let India remain the same Authentic India-admired by the entire world for its Uniqueness.
For elders even today, birthday is a day of contemplation. It is a day to look at the previous year, be grateful to God for the opportunities, to ask forgiveness for the mistakes committed and a day to resolve to become a better person in the following year.