Everyone looks forward to his/her birthday. Today, we have completely adopted the western method of celebrating birthdays by leaving aside our own culture. We take time to list out all the things we would like to do on our birthday. We make grand plans on how we will celebrate it with our family, friends, near and dear ones. Parents plan in advance for the type of party they would like to host for their child’s birthday. They observe their child’s interests and then order for expensive cakes that will reflect those interests (i.e cakes shaped like Doraemon, Barney, Chhota Bheem etc.). Family and friends are invited over and everyone sings the birthday song while the birthday boy/girl blows out the candles and cuts the cake. People shower the child with gifts like toys, comic books, gold.. Everyone plays games, listens to film music, enjoys performances by clowns, magicians and then leaves. In this entire celebration, people forget the meaning of the ritual of celebrating one’s birthday.
Now, let us view a video that compares and contrasts between the modern style of celebrating a birthday and the method that has been handed down by our culture.
It is spiritually most conducive to celebrate one’s birthday as per the tithi. (To know your Birth Tithi, use the widget below). Also, just like every ritual in our culture, there are certain rituals to be followed while celebrating it. Let us see what those rituals are
Rituals to be done by the one celebrating his birthday
1.Take abhyangasnan (bath with oil massage).
2. Offer Namaskar (obeisance) to your parents and elders.
3. Perform puja (ritualistic worship) of your Kuladevata (family Deity). If possible, also offer abhishek ( ritualistic bathing with milk or water).
4. Do atleast four malas (rounds) of chanting of your Kuladevata’s name.
Rituals to be done by others for the one celebrating his birthday
1. Aukshan (arti ) with a lamp lit with ghee should be done for him.
2. Akshata (unbroken rice with vermilion) should be placed on his head thrice with contemplation on the Kuladevata or Upasyadevata (Deity of worship).
3. A sweetmeat should be offered to him.
4. Prayers to bless him should be recited.
5. He may be given a gift but without any expectation from him or doership for the act. The one celebrating his birthday however should foster the bhav (spiritual emotion) that ‘this is a prasad (Holy sacrament) that I am receiving from God’.
Do not do perform incorrect acts
1. Blow out candles : In Bharatiya culture a lit lamp has a lot of importance. It spreads light that signifies knowledge that dispels the darkness of ignorance. By blowing out candles we are extinguishing the source of knowledge and plunging ourselves into darkness.
2. Cut a cake
3. Have meaningless games or have performances of film song and dance.
Celebrate a blissful, meaningful birthday !
For elders, 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.