Indian way of Birthday Celebration
We live in times when many people believe in showcasing their riches through their expensive dresses, grand celebrations, costly gadgets or luxury cars. In the midst of such people, it is a blessing to have our saints and devotees who believe that ancient values and traditions are more important than money or show off.
In the past few years, the celebration method of birthdays and anniversaries has been influenced by the Western celebration method – cutting fancy cakes, giving expensive birthday gifts and throwing a lavish-themed party. There are very few who believe in celebrating with simplicity.
Birthday Celebration in Hindu Culture
The culture that we have been bestowed by our ancestors is near to becoming entirely faded. The Hindu population is on the verge of forgetting the real essence of celebrating birthdays. That is why this article is only focused on the true Hindu way of celebrating birthdays.
Firstly In our Hinduism Birthday doesn’t necessarily lie on the same day as in the English calendar because, unlike the English one, the Hindu Birthday is celebrated according to ‘tithi’ (day according to the Hindu lunar calendar). The birthday in accordance with the tithi is said to be more accurately aligned with the real birthday than the English Birthday. According to Hindu mythology, such a birthday is also regarded to be more spiritual than the English one.
We definitely should be a role models to our society which needs to curb its unruly obsession with money and showcasing wealth.
There is an incident with Sudha Murthy, wife of Narayan Murthy the founder and CEO of Infosys. It is about how she taught his son Rohan to celebrate his birthday with morality and showcased how money shouldn’t change ethics and ancient values at all.
While talking about how to raise kids with values, she spoke about this incident when her son wanted to host a birthday party in a five-star hotel when he was young. But, how she refused to give him permission shows what all parents need to seek inspiration from.
Sharing the incident, she mentioned how her son Rohan went to one of his friend’s birthday parties in a five-star hotel and wanted to do the same for him. While explaining to Rohan why he can’t throw a party, she mentioned: “How much will it cost? assume 1000 rupees per person and you call 50 people, it will cost 50,000 right??”
She said to Rohan “There is a person who used to drive our car. He has two children. They are as bright as you are. Their school fees, are probably Rs. 10,000. If you give Rs. 20,000 to them, they can go to a better school, my son.”
She explained to her son that the amount he would spend on a lavish party could help to provide better education to many impoverished children including their own driver’s children. That is the best parenting lesson ever.
She further added “For your birthday, I am not denying you to celebrate. I will buy you a Samosa and Frooti. More than that, I don’t think you should spend because what you are doing is wrong, according to me. Those two children will not go to school, whereas you spend Rs. 50,000.”
In the times, when many parents tend to buy their kids expensive clothes, gadgets and toys, what she said next is what every parent needs to tell their kids.
“Look, my child, Let us not think we are too great or some superior personality to all others. we are ordinary. Just because your father has money or I have money, you are not extraordinary or superior.”
This one incident Rohan remembered for whole his life, he never forgets this. When he was in Cornell, he wrote an email to me, and I have that email even today. He wrote, “Every mother looks after her child. But I am proud my mother looked after someone’s children too.”
Sudha Murthy has raised her kids with the importance of sharing wealth with others and being sensitive to the needs of those less fortunate people. she also taught that money you are using for one-time party can be life-changing for someone too. so, use it wisely.
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 the 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.
What do you think is better, to cut a cake and use it as makeup on someone’s face or is it better that the cake can satisfy the hunger of a poor person for a while?
While this part of the birthday party remains more or less the same, different traditions and cultures have added other fun and religious additions to the ceremony. In this post, we walk you through some of the top birthday party traditions that are unique to India.
1)– Starting the Day with the Blessings of saints, Parents, Grandparents and all elders of the family.
2) – The Temple Visit is a common practice to be performed in India on auspicious days like birthdays, anniversaries, Diwali and New Year. Even some of them also perform special Pooja or offer thaal to god and have prasadi of that thaal with family and friends.
3) – Feeding cows and the poor also is a ritual for getting the blessings of God on special days.
4) – Fruit distribution or food distribution in hospitals or to needy ones.
5) – donating clothes or blankets to the poor, orphans and beggars.
So, which of these traditions do you practice at your home? Do you have any other special birthday traditions? Share with us in the comments below.
Jai Shree Swaminarayan.