Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Perhaps we can light a lamp instead?

Recent generations of Bhaaratvaasis adopted several practices from newer societies and cultures, with or without fully understanding (or even attempting to know about) the ethos of our own. Blowing out one or more candles is one such 'alien' custom. I for one never knew why the candle(s) were blown out, but found a possible explanation here "The blowing out of the candles on the birthday cake originated from an early tradition that believed that the smoke from the candles would take one's wish or petition up to God."
A senior citizen (can we call them Gen W or earlier?) - my mother - is amazed that most families follow and perpetuate such new 'traditions', come each red letter day.
In India, and likely elsewhere, the 'light goes out' to symbolise the instance of a transition from light to darkness. Even this Rabindranath Tagore explains as: “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Recently a family celebrated the 80th birthday of its matriarch who declined to blow out the candle, instead she lit a lamp. Let us salute this anonymous octogenarian-trendsetter.
Is the next red letter day due very soon? Get ready to light up, don't waste your lung power to blow out.


GVK said...

Lighting a lamp is a good thought; and, perhaps, planting a birth-day sapling as well. What do you think ?

Swarna said...

Yes, GVK. Plant it, or gift it to someone who will care for it. I wonder how parents, if convinced, will encourage the child on this matter?

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

yes, my friend shruthi's mom used to say the same thing about blowing a candle. Since then, i'd stopped blowing candles, cause i consider her thought to be right. I too would love to plant a sapling fr my birthday!!

Mysore Madhu said...

Lighting the Lamp is symbolic of taking us from darkness (agnana) towards Light (gnana - knowledge). We light lamps before deities before puja. We light lamps before darkness sets in at dusk. When such practices are prevalent, the practice of blowing out the candle flame needs to be discontinued.

As GVK states, it would be worth it to plant a sapling on such occassions. That would be a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday.