Today, I am celebrating my birthday through the traditions of Indian culture here with “Ek Koshish, One Attempt!” When I woke up, I practiced a sacred Hindu tradition, where young men bend down and touch the feet of the elders for whom he has the utmost respect. Usually, my elders in India, with whom I practice this custom, stop me before I reach their feet, which they practice out of respect for me, saying “Khush raho, beta” (“Stay happy, my child” in Hindi). After a special mug of chai, in the “birthday mug” (an especially large mug for the birthday boy, as my host family described), the family has been showering me with little gifts and treats. Everybody, even including our students from our school, has been wishing me a “Happy Birthday,” or “Janam Din Mubarak,” as we say in Hindi!
The family I have been staying with has made many preparations for this special day for me: Apart from the surprises unbeknownst to me, today we will be going to a Hindu temple, for “Darshan,” which translates to “Visit/View” in Hindi, specifically for visiting a temple, God’s home, in this case. During the day, I will go with my “bhaiya” (Hindi word for “brother,” but used among friends as well) to the markets in India, where we will buy some food and a cake for the evening. When our students can arrive to the “davat” (the word for “party” in Hindi) at dusk, we will host a special meal for all of our students, in honor of my birthday. In India, charitable acts, especially involving feeding the hungry, are highly venerated, which is why the host family with Ek Koshish would like to celebrate my birthday by giving back to the community! Otherwise, I have posted this picture above, which was taken during my favorite Indian holiday, “Holi,” in Mathura (a city a couple of hours south of Faridabad by car). This is another example of a “davat!” I am excited and looking forward to these unique birthday festivities!