The clichéd birthday culture
Birthdays are beautiful. These days are extremely special to the one born and all others around the person; parents, family, friends. We all want to celebrate our birthdays in a grand way- we want to enjoy for the whole day, eat good food, wear new clothes and be pampered.
The birthday culture has been greatly influenced by the western culture- we have imbibed into our system various birthday rituals, e.g. the mandatory cake, blowing of candles, balloons, midnight celebrations and birthday parties. All of us spend a lot on our birthdays- on clothes, for partying, chilling with friends etc.
In our hostel, the scene is no different. When it is someone’s birthday, almost the whole of the batch decorates the room, gets a cake, plans surprises, fun games and a lot more. Everybody makes an attempt to make the birthday person feel special and at home, comfortable. Every ritual is fine except for one; this is something which concerns me a lot.
Our hostel is located in a humble setting, away from the city. And in such a setting, the cakes available are equally humble- they aren’t gorgeous and appealing. So, we have found a solution for this. Either people go out to the city to get a delicious cake or they order the cake to be delivered at the campus- delivery being the more preferred option during working days. And there would be another cake bought as well. The former is bought for the purposes of eating; while the latter cake never meets the same fate as the former one.
The latter cake is one which is bought from the humble stores around; easily available at the rate of Rs. 200 for a kilogram. Now, this cake is a cheaper version and the purpose of it is basically ‘for fun.’ The birthday person is brought in blind-folded to the beautifully decorated room, full of balloons and fairy lights, chocolates and gifts all over with these two cakes. The celebrations begin at sharp 12 in the midnight- the gorgeous cake gets cut, people enjoy it, wish the birthday person and then the fun begins. People start applying the humbler cake onto the face and body of the birthday person. Then, people mutually apply it on one another- throw the pieces of the cake at each other and celebrate. This gives a sense of immense pleasure to everyone. After an hour’s celebration, cake application and endless screaming; the cleaning session begins.
People clean themselves of the cake and the cream on their bodies before going to sleep. The next day, the house-keeping staff would arrive and they would definitely understand that a birthday was celebrated the night before- the balloons and decorations stand as an evidence for it.
And they humbly ask to some student as to whose birthday was it. Having known so, they would wish that person and ask for some cake. If they are fortunate enough- there would be some cake for them or they might just get some chocolates or biscuits and if not, they would get nothing. I wander if this makes them sorrowful. I don’t know if it causes them any sadness, but it definitely saddens me. These people work for long hours, just to keep us healthy and our environment clean; and their salary is meagre. They can’t take up another profession, because none is available and they can’t even spare a lot of time. Their salary is so less that celebrating the birthdays of their children is still a dream for most of them- they can’t even afford the cake, which gets wasted in the birthday celebrations in the hostel. They don’t ask for the cake for themselves; yes they too like cakes; but as mothers and fathers, they too are sensible enough to take the cake slices home for their children; something which they can’t afford themselves.
It is not only that their situation is pitiable; but the fact that people are insensitive towards such issues is what concerns me. People think that they can do anything out of their parents’ money; it is for them to choose as to how they would spend their riches. I understand that it is their money, their riches; but it is certainly not their ‘resources alone’. The things they waste are created form resources which belong to everyone equally and their riches are not a license to cause any kind of wastage. Each one may eat as much he wants, but they should not waste the littlest amount of the food ordered. Each one must be sensible enough to understand this and if at all someone wishes to celebrate their birthdays in a grand way- they may do so by spreading smile. A humble cake can bring smiles on many faces. The least someone can do about such issues is ‘abstain from participating in such activities.’ Eating a cake is never a problem; but wasting it, certainly is. Each time you waste something; remember those numerous faces which could have been lit up by it; analyze the number of faces you could light up by donating this food.
Do your bit, everyone. It is essential.