Don’t Forget the Cake!

Birthday Traditions in India

“Happy Birthday” in Hindu is “Janam din Mubarak ho.”  Birthdays are celebrated with family and friends.  A traditional birthday includes Aarti, which is a ceremony performed for the person who is having a birthday by female members of the family.  This is usually done by arranging a small tray with colorful spices on it, like  yellow tumeric and red cumcum powder, rice, a betel nut, and a small lamp or tea light.

The female relative performing the ceremony will light the lamp/tea light and then put a bit of each spice on the birthday boy/girl’s forehead, then sprinkle rice on them.  (This part of the ceremony reminded me of the cattail pollen ceremony of the White Mountain Apache tribe.)  Next, the female relative takes the betel nut and circles it around the birthday boy/girl’s face in a clockwise motion, then circles the tray three times.

Indian Spices

In some places, the birthday boy/girl is fed a bite of cake first.  But then the birthday boy/girl goes around and feeds a bite of cake to each guest.  This caught Elder Aldridge by surprise!

birthday cake tradition

It isn’t complete until everyone has been served their bite of cake by the birthday boy.

cake tradition

Some of the birthday cakes in India are extraordinary.  Just like the beautiful colors of the spices, birthday cakes can be colorful and exotic.  Here’s an example of a lemon cake with mango filling.  Only in India! Ciao!

Lemon with mango filling



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