Mother turns ninety today. We are in the midst of a celebration with lots of gifts, flowers, cake and music. It's quite enough for her. Lucky for us (the multi-culti branch of the family) because a traditional Hindu birthday celebration certainly would have tired her out.
The night before the big day, we would have had to place 5 types of auspicious things representing the 5 elements of the Earth, i.e. the conch for water, sandalwood for land, etc. where she'd see them upon awakening. Next, she would have invoked Lord Shiva by chanting his Gayatri 21 times, and after that, the Shiva Namavali ( 108 Holy Names Of Lord Shiva ) and then the Rudram, 3 times. A ghee lamp would have been lit before the chanting and someone (probably me!) would have been charged with making sure it stayed lit for the entire 3 days of celebration.
On the big day, well-wishers would have visited. Which they did, in the real-life version of this scenario, singing that song and whatnot. Afterward, Mother’s footprint in sand would have been taken by the man of the house. (My brother? Can’t quite see that.) Later (after the sixth pooja), kum kum powder, the footprint, betel leaves, and lit camphor would have been placed alongside the ghee lamp on a tray and circled 9 times around Mother’s head. With the evil eye warded off, we would have begun, as we begin now, on two continents and in our respective ways, to herald Mother’s ninety-first year on the lovely blue planet we all share.