We did not celebrate our son’s birthday this year. The situation being such in March, just did not feel like celebrating. But can a 4-year-old understand this? Though he did not complain, whoever called to wish him, he proceeded to tell everyone, that it wasn’t his birthday that day.
The original plan was to send a cake to school and to have a kiddie party at home, but the schools were closed down and the party was cancelled so in his opinion it was not his birthday!!. We took him to McDonald’s but it isn’t exactly a ‘birthday’ is it?
And then there was this business of ‘aarti’. In konkanis till a child is 5, we do an aarti. (Why only till a child is 5? I really do not know, maybe till 5 they are angels and after that they turn into devils) Now this aarti is something like a Maharashtrian ‘Ovalni’. The child is garlanded. A Pooja thali is set. Rice (akshath) is layered on the thali and four Coconuts will be arranged on it. Over the coconut a plate is kept and on that the aarti.(usually this smaller plate and the aarti will be silver ones).
Married women(Sumangalis) will come forth, first put the akshath on the child’s head and then do the aarti, again put the akshath. The aarti is done holding the smaller plate. At least five Sumangalis have to do this. Men and the elder children can only put the akshath. The younger children can put the akshath but at the feet of the child. Actually this ceremony is to bless the child and pray for his/her long life.
I had done this ceremony for the last 3 birthdays, not doing this would make me uncomfortable, yes go ahead and call me superstitious. Also there was this business of making him happy. SO what was to be done?
FInally we decided to celebrate his birthday according to the ‘thithi’ or the HIndu calendar. He was born the next day of Ramnavami, so that was THE day.
We decided to call three Konkani families, a menu was set, and we got busy. But this time the food was to be ‘insourced’. One of the families has taken ‘deeksha’ (initiated into Sanatan Dharma). Which meant that they eat only Prasadam ( food offered to the deity). Now you may ask, whats is the problem to cook for about 10-12 people. But for a person who panics at simple issues ( I am quite brave on the major ones) and who has a non-existent stamina, this was something MAJOR.
In my grandmother’s era, relatives dropped by unannounced, even if they had written a letter announcing their arrival, very often it arrived after their arrival. The womenfolk did not complain they just went ahead with the business of cooking. After all athithi devo bhav.
In my mother’s age; our home was quite near to the Steel plant hospital, and whoever went there for a check up dropped at our place. And depending on the time of their arrival breakfast/ lunch was served. And though we kids cribbed, amma never did. She always served with a smile. And here I was on my tenterhooks for a simple meal for 12.
Anyways, first the food had to be cooked then offered to the deity which meant that the food could not be tasted. I never taste when I cook on a routine basis but when I invite someone, I like to follow the cook, taste, adjust routine. But this time I could not taste and that made me panicky.
On the D-day the food was cooked, offered and tasted, it was OK. But one of the kids was sick and was rushed to the hospital. Another family got delayed because there was a call from the office and I was jittery.
And so it was late when the actual ceremony started, everything went well, we had a lovely time and most important the kid was happy, finally it was his ‘BIRTHDAY’.
I am still fighting away my blues so pardon me on any lapses.
Also I am not able to access blogspots so Rachna, Gayatri, Renu, Punam et al please pardon me, I am not able to read Ur blogs or comment on them. I am trying to find the cause of the problem and will return to the circuit soon.