Donate your birthday to charity
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” -John Mason
Birthday comprises two words i.e. Birth and Day. The former means the process of bearing the offspring while the latter one indicates time or period. In other words, a birthday means the anniversary of the birth of any natural person. However, it is tough to define the birth if we seriously think of it from different perspectives. We all know that where there’s a birth, there is a death because we are born to die. It means we are mortal. But our eastern philosophy says that only physical bodies die but not the soul because the soul is the living entity. It is unborn, unbreakable and invisible. Thus, it is very complicated and complex to define the birth of a natural person in a very real sense.
There is belief that birthdays didn’t start until calendars were launched. It is also said that the practice of celebrating birthdays was commenced by the ancient Romans. The government there used to give public holidays at one time on a famous citizen’s birthday. But the surprising fact was that only men were supposed to experience birthday celebrations. Females were not allowed to celebrate their birthdays until about the 12th century. Many things have changed since then. As we all know, this is the 21st century & the 21st century advocates the modern concept of individualism, liberalism, freedom and so on. Most people, for this reason, love celebrating their birthday today knowingly or unknowingly the philosophy, reason, basis etc. of it. Consequently, the birthday song “Happy Birthday to You” was composed in English and the song became so popular in the world that it set the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records and its base lyrics have also been translated into more than 18 different languages of the world. It is sung throughout the world in 35 different languages as well.
Well, celebrating a birthday itself may not be bad but the matter depends on how we celebrate it, what we do on it, etc. In fact, there may be lots of pros and cons of this issue. Personally, I have no interest in celebrating birthdays superficially in western patterns. I didn’t organize any parties in the past but friends would arrange small birthday parties for me. When I asked them not to arrange such parties, they said “this might not be special for you but it’s very much special for us & it’s our privilege & fortunate to be with you”. By hearing such lovable words from them I used to get unanswered. However, celebrating a birthday in western pattern without knowing the crux of the matter is like a kind of imitation. And constantly imitating other cultures can get our culture damaged and destroyed in the long run. In other words, it is an imported culture and most of the imported cultures shouldn’t be applied exactly as it is.
Looking back at the history of our country, Shree Teen Jung Bahadur Rana was supposed to celebrate his birthday for the first time after visiting the UK. Since then, some western culture including the culture of celebrating birthdays were introduced in Nepal. Later, it was limited in the palace and in the family of a handful of affluent people. After the 1990 people’s movement, this culture began to grow up gradually in the elite group and with the rise of Facebook in 2006, its impact on people and society began to flourish day by day and now most of us who have access on social media are posting birthday celebration’s photos and videos as if we are participating in a tough competition. Consequently, we are spending plenty of money every single day without any specific purpose or productive work whereas the backbone of our country’s economy is remittance.
Frankly speaking such type of culture of imitation is spreading rapidly like the flames of fire by creating terrible social discrimination across the country. People belonging to the lower class are also bound to spend money on their children’ birthday because celebrating birthdays has become like a kind of ritual that must be performed to make our children happy. It is in truth, raising serious questions in our culture by affecting the socio-economic life of our society that should be reconsidered on time from our level too.
However, the poor living in town or city areas neither celebrate their birthday nor do they have money to celebrate it. What is more, many poor people of the Karnali and other remote areas of the country are dying every year without a tablet of paracetamol although it is very hard to get the information regarding this issue. From here it is clear that celebrating a birthday is not compulsion but a volition and mere imitation of the concerned person and his/her family. Therefore, the matter of celebrating a birthday should always be made meaningful & purposive but not meaningless & imitative. In this regard, M.T.Cicero quotation is noteworthy. He says “”Non nobis solum nati sumus”. It means “not for ourselves alone are we born’. This is why, let’s try to raise others i.e. donating small amounts of money to the poor as per our financial status instead of spending money by organizing a party for birthday celebration.
Talking of celebrating a birthday in an imported pattern, we’re in fact, cursing ourselves when we blow out the candles to “make a wish”. From my perspective, we should burn the candles for a whole day or until they are finished because it’s our special day & the burning candle indicates light in the darkness of life. We might have faced severe situations at some point of life. So, at least burning candles for one day may help us to reduce our stress, pressure & could be a new beginning of life as well. What is more, birthday celebrations relate to mental things rather than physical one. If we are happy from within, no need to celebrate the birthday because we at a time hear that some people first celebrate their birthday grandly as per their financial capacity and status & commit a suicide later in the same day. For this reason, the most strenuous thing in this world is to be satisfied, to reveal oneself & to know oneself with conscious mind and helping hand. Only good wishes and blessings during the birthday party and on social media i.e. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. do not change our lives and minds if we don’t have a change of heart.
In my view, festivals or occasions are only for the rich, the poor just suffer. Poor people’s minds are always centered on what to eat in the morning & what to eat in the evening. They always look for the face of grain and importantly money because due to lack of money their Children don’t get the chance to go to school & become illiterate and laborer like their parents. We can see many underaged children involved in hard and risky types of blue collar jobs which is so terrible and painful not only for them but for basically our nation in the long run also. Don’t they want to celebrate their birthday? Of course, they do but the scarcity of money deprived them from celebrating their birthday. So, let’s see the face of those poor children once and think twice before celebrating our birthday with frills. Instead of being the birthday king/queen, let’s try to be the king/queen of poverty-stricken people. Our small aid could bring a smile on their faces which could be so watchable. There is a famous quote said by Mother Teresa, “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” So, we can save the life of one at least by donating a little money if we want.
So, why not set up a birthday fund in the school/college? Money raised from each student’s birthday can become a good birthday fund in a year to help those children who are unable to go to school due to poverty. Besides, the social and cultural sector can also be benefitted. If we would do such kinds of activities in schools/ colleges, it would be amazing and effective sooner or later. Similarly, let’s explore our culture’s origin on birthday celebrations and disseminate and apply it in practice if it is based on science and is full of logic. We shouldn’t forget our culture while imitating others’ culture. Mahatma Gandhi rightly said “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”. Thus, let’s try to live being original. Let’s not die a copy.