during births, marriages, birthdays and other sundry ocassions adds
spice to life
we are ever ready to do something, it is to celebrate. In fact in
Indian astrology, there is a certain combination of stars and planets
which is described as bringing vastralabha or benefit of good
clothes. While this may seem funny in the present day context, in
olden times, new clothes symbolized celebrations. They were bought by
the family on festive occasions or gifted by another family on a
happy occasion of theirs. So vastralabha indicated prosperity
of the entire family and happy days of celebration and fun ahead.
Celebrations and the need to share the joy of the moment are among
mans oldest sources of happiness.
celebrations are common to people across the world. The manner in
which these occasions are celebrated may, however, differ even from
region to region, let alone culture to culture.
moment one hears that a child is to be born, the mother is fussed
over. On the fifth month, a function is celebrated by the
would-be-fathers parents. On the seventh month, a function is
celebrated by the would-be-mothers parents for the well-being
of their daughter and grandchild. Once the child is born, generally
on the eleventh day and in some societies even earlier, a function is
held called the namakaranam. On this day, the childs
horoscope is cast and the name given. The name is whispered into the
babys ear and also written on a bed of wheat by the maternal
the time, the child turns one sometimes even in the eighth
month a function called annaprasam is held. On this
day, the child is fed rice for the first time. The first birthday is
itself a cause for celebration.
first day of learning is celebrated too by praying to Goddess
Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. In South India, the child is fed
with sarkarai pongal or sweet rice before being sent to
entry into adolescence is marked by two ceremonies. Young boys who
belong to the Brahmin community go through a thread ceremony or
upanayanam. When girls attain puberty, it is cause for
is a lavish affair in India. A marriage is never seen only as a
matter concerning the bride and the groom. It is a meeting of two
families. Though modern trends have restricted the definition of a
family to a nuclear family, even now in villages and traditional
families, the ambit of a family includes parents, brothers and
sisters, uncles and cousins. So the process of getting to know the
two sides of the families during marriage is a long one. Arrangement
has been made for this by spreading a wedding ceremony over five or
marriage function is very enjoyable. There is constant supply of good
food. And there are fine clothes and jewels to wear.
sixtieth birthday is an important landmark in a mans life.
Naturally in those days when life expectancy was as low as 32 years,
to reach the age of sixty was an achievement. Astrologically, it was
the time when Saturn and Jupiter came back to the places that they
occupied in the natal chart. Therefore it is celebrated almost like
eightieth birthday is an even more lavish celebration. Though today
things have changed, earlier only a mans birthday was
celebrated. The womans aging was an inevitable process accepted
as naturally as the day that follows the night. This is because in
the traditional Indian psyche, the Indian male is so important and it
is in his longevity that rests the future of his wife. In fact, a
woman who is married is referred to as sumangali. A sumangali
prathinai is a ritual that precedes every festival or auspicious
occasion this function is a thanksgiving to the Almighty for
the husbands well-being and prayer for his long life.
can mention death too in the same strain as one mentions festivities
organized at wedding time and other happy occasions, it is because
death itself is viewed as liberation of the soul. On the thirteenth
day, a mini-wedding is conducted. Till the twelfth day after death
the rituals relate to appeasing the spirits and praying that the
departed soul rest in peace. On the thirteenth day, there are no
rituals. New clothes are bought and a lavish feast is laid out more
so if the death is of an old person who has lived his or her life
fully. This feast indicates that the bad times are over and once
again the family is set on the route to happiness and long life.
addition to all this one very potent tool of worship in India is
fasting. On ekadasi or the moonless night, people fast and so
do they on festivals like Shivaratri. They may also have their
longings and desires, and to seek fulfillment, they fast and pray to
the deity. Each day of the week has a certain significance and people
fast on the day that is relevant to the wish they are praying for.
fasting is the ultimate in restraint, good food is typical of
celebrations in India. If you just take a peep at all the kitchens
across the country, you will find a range of delicacies, which have
some symbolism, both in terms of health and taste, and typify a
certain celebration. Music too is an integral part of all
celebrations. Perking you up with the many festivals Indians have
indeed learnt the art of celebration.