Birthdays seem to be one of those days we live for. Be it our birthdays or that of our loved one’s we often seem to live it up on such special days. In India, as we like to celebrate every festival with great fervour and heightened spirits, birthdays are no less. For most Indians, birthdays are seen to be a mix of traditional as well as western rituals. It’s like an amazing blend wherein one wishes a very happy birthday over a nice cake which could be baked by one or can be ordered online alongwith online cake delivery in Lucknow or some XYZ city. Along With this westernised cake cutting ceremony, it involves a traditional puja ceremony to mark this day in an auspicious manner; to seek Almighty’s blessings. Rice is smeared with turmeric paste on foreheads as people wish the birthday boy/girl, “happy birthday”. There are many such offbeat yet pretty happening birthday rituals that are being carried out every year to blend Indian culture with foreign ones. Here are a few traditional birthday rituals that haven’t yet died down due to modernization in urban India.
- Cake cutting – Probably, this is one bit of the celebration every Indian birthday boy/girl looks forward to. Everyone attending the birthday party sings “Happy Birthday Song” as the birthday boy/girl cuts the cake as he/she turns a year older. Everyone feeds a bite of cake to the birthday boy/girl usually with their hands and in return, the birthday boy/girl does feed them too. For fine celebrations, a cake is often then smeared over the birthday boy/girl’s face out of love and friendliness.
- Temple Blessings – For most of us Indians, our birthdays usually begin with the temple visit in the early morning. People wear new clothes, take a bath as they seek the Almighty’s blessings on their birthday. Prayers are offered along with some fruits and sweets as offerings to the priest of the temple so that it can bring one good fortune this year.
- Aarti – Eldest female of the house usually performs puja for the birthday boy/girl for his/her well being. During such puja ceremony, an aarti or a prayerful small flame of diya is lit to seek Almighty’s blessings and t soak into positive spiritual vibes. Once the aarti is done, a tilak made with a paste of rice mixed with ghee and curd is placed on everyone’s forehead as part of blessings.
- Wearing New Clothes – Many children and elders like to wear new clothes on their birthdays. They opt for something glitzy to mark their birthdays on a special note. Children chuck out their regular school uniforms as they adorn their new dresses to school and distribute some toffees and chocolates to their friends and teachers.
- Relishing Sweets – Usually, on other days, we tend to eat desserts after main courses. But on birthdays, everyone loves to binge eat sweets all throughout the day. Every Indian household prepares some desi sweets like laddu, jalebis, rabri, gulab jamun, rasgullas and more to commemorate this special day. If one can’t choose to prepare their sweet dishes, they better choose to shop for these sweet dishes from some nearby sweet shop. A sweet indulgence is a must for Indian birthdays, be it for a 90-year-old grandpa or for a youngster.
- Shaving Off Hair – Particularly on the first birthday of a child, Hindus believe to shave the hair. This happens for both a baby girl child as well as for a baby boy child. It is said that doing so would free the child from all his sins of the past life and allow the child to make a fresh start.
- Touching feet of Elders – As per Indian culture, it is a great sign of respect when someone bends down to touch the feet of their elders. This is done to seek their blessings on their birthday. Every Indian child touches their parents’ feet after teh puja has been done to give them respect and to say thank you for looking after them.
So, these were a few ways in which every Indian celebrates their birthdays. Do let us know which was your favourite ritual.