Birthdays – The Indian Ways of An Uplifting Celebration

Hari Om! 🙂 My heartfelt gratitude for all the wishes and blessings on this beautiful day. Hope you like this special blog! 😀

Birthdays bring with them excitement, love and happiness. 🙂 

How do we generally celebrate our birthday? By cutting a cake, celebrating with friends and family or going out for dinner and partying, right? 

If this is what a birthday celebration means to you, maybe that is fine. 

But today, we are going to look at a subtler and more beautiful perspective of celebrating this special day – or should I say days? 

Because as per the Indian tradition or the lunar calendar, we celebrate our birthday on what is called the “Janma Tithi”, where the constellations of the astronomical bodies are similar to what it was during the time of our birth. 

Earlier I personally had zero belief in the “Tithi or Nakshatram(Star)” birthday as we call it – simply because I never understood this tradition. 

In 2019 however, I could sense a deep spiritual happiness the moment I woke up on the day of my star birthday, hence I spent time reading about it. I’ll simplify that bit of information here. 

The vibrations present in the surroundings on the Tithi are most supportive for true inner growth – because they match the vibrations we were actually born with, which make up our subtle body. 

Thus the ancient seers came up with celebration rituals that can enhance the person’s capacity to absorb these spiritual vibrations around him and evolve in all the aspects – spiritual, mental and emotional.

These celebrations are inherently Sattvic or purifying in nature. They enhance the qualities of purity and awareness in us and strengthen the vibrations of the subtle body. 

Whether you celebrate the date of birth or the Tithi or you actually choose to do both like I do – do it mindfully, integrating the best of Indian cultural practices on both days. Thus, both the special days can be greatly elevating. 

How? Let’s see! 

Abhayangasnan – Ah, how does it sound to begin the day early with a calming ritual of a gentle oil massage followed by a warm water bath? This Ayurvedic ritual helps wash away stress, fatigue and dead skin cells, is known to increase circulation to the nerve endings and levels mental alertness, amongst many other proven benefits. It is a complete nourishment for the physiological and psychological systems of the being.

Holistic Well-being – Remember how the mind automatically calms down due to divine vibrations when Arati is performed at home or at a temple? Similarly, here the individual sits near the altar at home and the elder performs the ritual of Aukshan – where subtler frequencies are activated by a lit lamp is waved in a circular motion in front of the person with a prayer for his/her well-being. It is completed by sprinkling unbroken grains of rice (Akshata) on the child’s head. 

Sattvic Inspirations – In the earlier days, parents used to invite evolved beings like the Rishis and saints to bless the child for spiritual and material growth. Today, such a blessing is rare. If you receive it, cherish it with all your heart! Visiting the temple apart from engaging in listening to and reading greatly inspiring material and holding stimulating discussions with a like-minded person on this day, can be highly elevating.

The Birthday – By S.Aravind Raghavan (AKA Aravind Bhaiya! 🙂 )

Cakes Delight – This is something all of us love! But perhaps we can avoid blowing a candle off because it corresponds to extinguishing light. Instead say a simple heartfelt prayer and then cut the cake. That will enhance the positivity of the ritual! 

Light Lamps – What better than lighting colourful lamps and making it a mini-Diwali celebration? Light lamps of knowledge, love, happiness and well-being. And radiate light to all! 

Celebrations with Family – Again, an aspect all of us love. Birthdays are beautiful occasions for family get-togethers too. 

And a perfect day to seek the blessings of the parents, grandparents and other elders you revere! For it is said that the feet of an elder stands for the values he has lived through an entire lifetime.  

Give Gifts – Eh? Birthdays are all about receiving gifts right? Absolutely! But don’t forget you too were gifted to the world on this day. Gifts when given become more special. Make a gift of all the love you have to the world around. Give a donation, visit an orphanage, teach a child, grow plants, feed animals – or choose anything else! 

Make this day and life special for everyone around. 

Reflections and Growth – As we have already seen, this is a day with greater spiritual significance than we realize. This is when you can take time off, and reflect upon the year that has gone by. Where we fell and grew, the achievements and improvements to be made – this is a good day to see where you are and where you want to be in all aspects.  

Offering Gratitude – Finally offer heartfelt gratitude to Bhagavan for all the hits and misses,the sorrows and joy and for the beautiful life and birthday celebrations, for just about everything!

Thus, a birthday celebration in Bharat’s advanced culture, is more like a spiritual fest of inner growth, seva and gratitude! It is truly a day for the seeker to be born again with fresh vigour. 

Incidentally both 2020 and 2019 were super special for me, because I could include most of these aspects in the celebrations on both days! The Star birthday especially in 2019 was truly special because I discovered an Ayyappa temple somewhere in a corner of Jaipur. It was indescribable for I also share my Nakshathram with Him. Let’s see what this year’s star birthday brings! 😀

Hope you like this blog and include some of the aspects mentioned in your celebrations too! And don’t forget to ask your elders when your Tithi or Star birthday is. 🙂 

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂

A Message on Dussehra – My Beloved India I Promise

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Hope all of you are doing well and had a great Navaratri! We had an amazing one, despite the pandemic. 😀

I am back here after two weeks, hope you like the blog that follows! Do Read, Like and Cherish a Dream With Me. 🙂

Since centuries India had been suppressed and subjected to great atrocities. Yet this country withstood all of it and rose above to become the vibrant democracy she is today. 

Yes, we have multiple problems even today. And we are tackling them, many we still need to tackle effectively. But one of the greatest battles that India has fought and continues to fight is the one against her very foundation – her eternal cultural and spiritual knowledge tradition of Sanatana Dharma. 

We don’t need to look outside – we have masked heartless enemies within the nation itself who threaten everything we hold dear! 

Through the last few decades their attacks were not as visible as it is today. Today many Indians see through their propaganda, their “liberal” ideologies.

As India awakens to newer horizons – this Vijayadashami let each of us pledge to protect, serve and love our loving motherland – She who is an amalgamation of the Powers of Durga (Destroyer of Injustice), Lakshmi (The Custodian of Great Virtues and Material Prosperity) and Saraswati (The Bestower of Supreme Spiritual Knowledge). 

Here’s a poem I had penned when my heart felt like bursting with the amount of emotions inside it. 

My country is crying,
Choked by those who walk as her saviours. 

Listen, pay heed! Awake, Arise!
She is calling out to us,
Her beloved children,
To be warriors of her Light! 

Save my country, she is crying,
From those arrogant lobbying fools,
Who with the power of blue ticks seek to break her into pieces,
And destroy her immortal timeless legacy!

Save my country, she is crying,From those "journalists" 
Who claim to be her 4th pillar,
But have sold their souls at the altar of greed,
For they celebrate deaths of her brave children,
And encourage burning riots,
Just for mere money and TRPs! 

Save my country, she is crying, 
From all those heartless politicians,
Who use crime and violence as vote cards,
Who consider people as statistics,
Who care nothing about the nation,
Who drown under the weight of their own inhuman egos! 

Save my country, she is crying,
From the mud-slinging on her foundations,
From being buried under falsely "liberal" narratives,
From agendas that undermine her greatness,
From the dungeons of selfishness and power play! 

Save my country, she is bleeding, 
Demons masquerade as her protectors,
Wanting to destroy all that is left of her,
Wanting to stop all those who seek to re-build her!

Look, she is glancing at us,Her eyes shine with renewed hope,
For she knows this immutable truth,
Until even one of us who loves her lives,
She will be saved, she will be healed. 

Let us her children become,
The Warriors of her Eternal Tradition,
Born on this sacred land of Dharma,
Let us now live up to our grand legacy! 

Let our vision be so high,Our intent so pure and wise,
Our actions so selfless and loving,
Our voices so confident and strong,
That the cabals fade into oblivion. 

Let us come to re-discover our roots,
Let us nourish them once again with care,
Let us take such pride,
That our country shines brighter,
And the demons are destroyed in their own games! 

My beloved India I promise,
Until the last of us who loves you lives,
The truth will never perish,
Your legacy will never die.

This Dussehra, Let us pledge to gain victory against every internal and external enemy, and become children that our Mother Bharat will be proud of!

That will be the True Vijayadashami – for when the country shines, we shine. When we rise, India will rise! 

I Leave You with two YouTube Channel recommendations :

  1. Virtual Bharat – For Amazing Short Films on Untold Stories from across the country https://www.youtube.com/c/virtualbharat/videos

2. Sangam Talks – For Authentic Information on Indian History, Achievements, Wisdom, Contemporary Narratives and More – https://www.youtube.com/c/SangamTalks/videos

See You Next Sunday, 

Until Then,

Love and Om,

Happy Dussehra, 

Lakshmi. 🙂

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form Part 2

Hari Om! Welcome back to the journey with Bappa. 🙂 Thank You so much for all the love your poured in for the first chapter in the series. It really means a lot. 😀

Before we begin the concluding chapter, I have this deep urge to start a blog series exclusively on Lord Shiva – do suggest anything on Him that you would like to read about! 🙂

“Haha. My dear, the Lord is the very origin of this world. So forget about so-called right sizes. Think. After an evolved intellect goes beyond the pairs of opposites and remains established in the Infinite, what does life become like?” Bhagawan counter-questioned her. 

“Eh? Life would be all calm and joyful. Nothing can affect us anymore, because we would have realized that all of it is actually an illusion. This is my understanding so far,” she replied. 

“You got that somewhat right. This has layers to it, so we will see in the future. For now his large stomach tells us how a Rishi can digest all the experiences that life has to offer with a smile on his face. Established in the Truth, he has an unbeatable appetite for life! Because he knows that no problem is unsolvable and life itself is to be lived fully until you are here on this plane,” Bhagawan smile widely, quite satisfied with his explanation, watching the light dawn on his little seeker’s face. 

“No wonder everyone becomes so happy on seeing Ganesha! Because Ganesha symbolises a calm and happy life,” she exclaimed. 

“Haha totally. Now before you ask I have a question for you. Why do you think the Lord rides a mouse?” Bhagawan raised a brow. 

“Hawww! You beat me to this. Not fair. Umm, so the mouse is small. Maybe it represents that for a wise man, his desires which are troublesome for most of us – for him they become small?” She was thinking out loud. 

“Aha. Perfectly put. If you notice, the mouse looks up at the Lord with devotion in his heart. The mouse is small but its teeth are very powerful. They can nibble away at anything and cause destruction. So too our desires in the beginning are small, but when our insistence on their fulfillment goes beyond control – they spell disaster in our lives. Then greed, anger, etc come into the picture.” He paused to let Devika absorb this. 

“But aren’t desires also necessary if we are to live a successful life?” she questioned hesitantly. 

“They are. But like Mooshik surrenders to Ganesha, when our desires and the root cause of it – the mind surrenders to the Lord or to a Higher goal – its potential is turned in the right direction. That passionate insistence on the result vanishes. All that remains is a calm intellect which works with single-pointed devotion. Thus a wise man sublimates his desire and becomes an instrument to work for the welfare of all.” Bhagawan concluded. 

“Amazing this is Ayyappa. Truly amazing. Such depth,” Devika was speechless. 

“Now we have three elements left for the day. The axe, the rope and the modak that he holds. Quickly go and get your materials for your eco-friendly Ganesha. Give me your answer when you get back.” Bhagawan said and went into a meditative posture. 

Devika admired him for a few moments and ran away to get the material, simultaneously thinking about the three elements. 

She got back after a while and saw that Bhagawan was still immersed in meditation. She did not know how to call him back so she quietly sat next to him and wrote down her thoughts about the axe, the rope and the modak. As soon as she was done, Bhagawan opened his eyes much to her delight. 

“So what have you come up with?” He was back to his teasing mood. 

Devika giggled, her mind felt quite fresh after the reflections. “Ayyappa, don’t underestimate me okay. Have some faith in your little girl,” she admonished him. 

Bhagawan shook his head at her innocence while she went on. 

“Bappa tells all of us, 

With the axe when you cut off

your attachments and fears,

With the rope when you reign in

Your past regrets,

Your fanciful future imaginations and distress,

Then you serve the world with love and joy, 

You receive from me Modaks of Peace and Abundance!”  (Thank You Aravind Bhaiya for inspiring me to write this! )

“Wow. A poetess in the making it seems.” Bhagawan exclaimed with pride. 

Devika went red in her face after hearing that from Him. 

“Beautiful my little girl. Keep reflecting, keep walking. I will always be here with you. So will my dear elder brother, Bappa!” He patted her head lovingly before going. 

Devika grinned. She felt like dancing around but decided to sit down and make her Ganesha with all the love she had for Him in her heart. 

As she was finishing she realized her Lord was right all along. It was all about merging into the form to go beyond to the formless!

Ganapati Bappa Morya! May Bappa bestow upon the world all the health and happiness. 🙂 

I leave you with this serene and sublime chant of the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad – https://youtu.be/ZMRH8KFlHRU

See You Next Sunday with a new blog!

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

Lord Ganesha – The Hidden Messages in His Form

Hari Om! Welcome back. 🙂 Thank You for all your love and support for the previous blogs.

This one is a celebration of the magical form of our favourite Lord Ganesha. Happy Reading and Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! 😀

Ganesh Chaturthi as a festive celebration was introduced by Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a means of unifying the Indian society during the Independence movement. Today, more than ever before India’s countless communities celebrate this joyous festival with great enthusiasm. 

I have always been fascinated by the mysticism in the literature and traditions of Sanatana Dharma. With this story, I hope to take you through yet another beautiful journey! 🙂 

ऊँ गम गणपतये नमः

Little Devika watched as an enigmatic idol of Lord Ganesha made its way into her society – accompanied by loud cheers and songs of happiness from all members. She smiled as she looked at His form adoringly. 

Then she frowned, deep in thought. She had a penchant for wanting to know the symbolism behind Hinduism’s mystical forms and traditions. As she looked closely at Ganesha’s statue, beyond the happy and friendly Lord – she wondered what was it that his form represented? 

Now, this little girl had a special gift. She could converse with the Lord of her heart whenever she wanted! As if he had heard her confused mind, Lord Ayyappa appeared right next to her, smiling his divine smile. 

“Fascinated by my elder brother’s form?” He whispered, jolting her out of her thoughts. 

“Ayyappa!!” she exclaimed happily, surprised. 

Bhagawan giggled while she composed herself to launch a tirade of questions. “Yes yes. You know whenever I look at Ganesha I can’t help but feel happy because he brings such joy and peace! But then his form is so different, like most unique in all of our culture. Outsiders, even our own people might find it weird because no one knows what he represents. I can’t help but wonder..” She rattled off. 

“Well, firstly every form is an indication of the formless. Beyond the form, lies the formless.” Bhagawan said as he gazed at Lord Ganesha’s form with deep reverence in his heart. 

“But let us go step by step.” He chuckled looking at Devika’s confused face.

“What do you think of when you look at Lord Ganesha’s huge head?” He asked her. 

“Umm…well its an elephant’s head. And an elephant is one of the most powerful animals, always leads from the front. So leadership?” 

“Most certainly. Primarily his head represents the evolved intellect of what we call a Man of Perfection or a Rishi. This is the pinnacle that every man aspires to reach after a period of continuous sadhana and reflection. This intellect is rooted in the powers of knowledge and discrimination. It helps man take the right decisions in the world outside and unravel the layers of his own inner personality too.” Bhagawan replied impressed with her line of thought. 

“Wow. That is intense. What about his trunk? I know an elephant’s trunk can pick the tiniest blade of grass and uproot the mightiest tree,” she pondered. 

“Perfect. Similarly a wise man can perform the most difficult task with ease and go into the tiniest of details. He does not get perturbed by either. His focus is unbreakable.” Bhagawan smilingly shrugged. 

Devika paused to absorb this message before launching her next question. “And his broken tusk? I can’t wrap my mind around what that could tell us,” she complained. 

Bhagwan laughed at her expression. “My Dear, what does the power of knowledge and discrimination give you? Tremendous inner strength and understanding is it not?” He questioned. 

She nodded eager to know more. 

“With this understanding you go beyond the pairs of opposites. As in, look the world is made up of heat and cold, joy and sorrow and so on. That is its nature. Can you help it? No. But what you can certainly help is how you react to it. Right?” He searched her face for an understanding. 

“Yes. I can slowly get my mind to not complain about these things because they are what they are. They are not going away..But I can live happily despite that if I have the right understanding,” she was quick to reply. 

“On point. Perhaps this duality does not even exist, but that is for another day. Now Lord Ganesha’s broken tusk represents he who has gone beyond this duality and remains established in that subtle oneness which pervades this entire universe. The vision of love. There is no hatred or anger left in him. He is full of love and calm alone,” he explained making Devika wonder what that state would be like. 

“Such large ears he has! He can listen to all the love the entire world has for him na?” She asked. 

“That’s exactly what his super-large ears are for. To listen keenly. A wise man listens to all those who come to him with compassion, with a keen sense of being present in the moment – not allowing any prejudice to colour the mind. When he listens keenly, he makes the right decisions, when he does that he acts well and finally lives well!” Bhagawan winked. 

“Wow..quite a skill to pick up from Ganesha.” She smiled. “Now, in this stupid world of perceived right sizes, what about his large stomach?” She quizzed sheepishly. 

To Be Continued…

I’ll be back next Sunday with Part 2 (the concluding part) of the story!

I am leaving you with this soothing bhajan by Shri Shankar Mahadevan on Bappa. Do listen – https://youtu.be/nwmaPaf6Bac

Ganapati Bappa Morya! 

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.