Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blowing out candles

Doesn’t the heading itself convey some gloom? Lighting of the lamp is now a part of every event. We light lamps on Diwali and during most religious ceremonies. Light is associated with heat, the sun, the divine. It dispels darkness, ignorance and hatred. Nowadays candles are lit to mark every occasion – indiscriminately – rallies, protests, somber incidents like remembrances and anniversaries of natural calamities or war. So whether the occasion is happy or sad – we light a lamp or a candle.

So how come we blow the candles off our birthday cakes? One of the beliefs is that our wishes go heavenward with the smoke. I am all for charming childhood fantasies but this one could be better. Smoke? What goes up in smoke? Lungs? Life? Savings?

I began thinking about this after reading
this article. And while on the subject, I loved this short story.

So if you really think, candles are not meant for blowing – birthday or no birthday. We gave up this practice at home and now it feels really wonderful to leave the candles lighted - we have the larger ones around – the warmth, the luminescence is almost spiritual. What better atmosphere to create on a birthday?

Mother who grew up at Sevagram in Vardha, tells of how Gandhiji disapproved of unnecessary lighting of lamps as he believed that that oil could have been used by a poor family to cook an entire meal. Telling myself that food cannot possibly be cooked on a candle flame, I use them guiltlessly.


  1. Anonymous11:52 AM

    This makes a lot of sense. Well next Jan there will be 48 candles burning in the house. Kya raunak hogi.

  2. Anonymous11:58 AM

    I never liked blowing out candles but for different reasons. I always feared that some spit got on the cake and always threw the top layer.