The purpose of birthday according to our mythology can be interpreted as follows:

  • A birthday is a reminder of our true purpose in life, towards which our actions should be directed. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Dharma is righteousness – doing our duty; artha is righteous earning of the means to do our duty; kama and moksha represent fulfilling of desires and achieving inner happiness and liberation, respectively.
  • Each one of us has three debts to pay in our lifetime. These are: Dev Hrin, Pitra Hrin and Rishi/Guru Hrin. Our body has been given to us by our parents, they take care of us when we are young and so should we as they grow old; this is pitra Hrin. It also refers to our ancestors. Rishi/Guru Hrin is our debt to our teachers who give us knowledge and Dev Hrin is our debt to God, who has given us consciousness.

Pitra Hrin is repaid by conducting the rituals of Shradh usually performed either on Amavasya every month or on the death anniversary or the day of death according to the Hindu calendar.  Teacher’s day on 5th September is the day when Guru Hrin is repaid. We repay our debts to God through pooja and fasts.

 

On our birthday, we calculate how many debts are left to be repaid.

  • When we celebrate a birthday, we light candles on the cake and blow out the candles before cutting it. But this is a western culture. Our tradition is to not blow out the candles, but to ignite them. The burning candles illuminate the darkness. They shed light on the path we ought to travel on and enlighten us. Number of candles should be 100 minus the age lived and not age lived.

So, every year on our birthday, we should contemplate on the year that has gone by and take stock of what all has been achieved or what is left unfulfilled and define new goals for ourselves.