Sunday, June 28, 2015


One of my favourite authors has a bday today!!! Not only is she guest posting about birthday traditions, she's giving away a FREE copy to one lucky poster who comments on her post here! Happy Birthday, Lovely Lady. May you have many more :)

It’s my birthday on June 29th and my awesome friend has graciously agreed to let me write a guest post about how Sri Lankans traditionally celebrate their birthday. (Being half German and having grown up in Germany, I do only part of what I’m describing here.)

More than 70 % of the Sri Lankans are Buddhist (as am I), and this applies to their way of celebrating, though I am sure the Christians and Hindus share many similarities.

On your birthday, you get up early in the morning with the first light of dawn and prepare ‘milk rice’. For Sri Lankans, making milk rice means using a special sort of rice which is first boiled with lots of water. Then you add freshly made coconut milk in generous quantities and let the whole thing simmer until there’s no more liquid left. It is customary to add cardamom seeds. Some will also add raisins or jaggery for taste. You heap the whole mass onto a large platter and let it cool down and harden a little, before you cut it up into neat squares or diamond shapes.

This milk rice is offered to the temple early in the morning after you’ve had a bath and dressed in only white clothes. Part of the alms’ giving will be used for religious ceremonies and offerings to Lord Buddha, the rest of it will be the monks’ breakfast. So alongside the milk rice, you either offer fruits like bananas (if you sweetened it) or you make a spicy sambol of chopped onions, chili powder and a sprinkle of lime.
In case you don’t offer alms in the morning, you’ll go to the temple in the evening. There you light oil lamps, worship the Bo tree, burn incense sticks, ask for blessings, and maybe donate some money.

If you celebrate with the family – which is sort of inevitable – you’ll make a special lunch or dinner. Fried rice is the chosen meal. For this you’ll boil long-grained rice like Basmati and mix it with Margarine and tempered vegetables like finely chopped carrots, leeks, beans and cabbage. You can add scrambled eggs or small chicken pieces. Some will make a special Biryani dish instead.

In case you live in a traditional household, you’ll prepare sweetmeats of all kinds, made from rice flour and palm honey (treacle) or from ground mung beans, flour and sugar, dipped in batter and deep-fried. As an alternative or in addition to that, you’ll buy a nice icing cake. In my case, it’s almost always just the birthday cake (I LOVE chocolate) that’ll be lit with a candle, cut and fed to the family members and or guests in the afternoon.

As for gifts: Almost everyone in Sri Lanka will buy you clothes for your birthday or any other occasion, whether you’re a woman or a man. Hardly anyone asks whether you want something specific or gets you any other gift unless they know you very well. When you receive your gift, you shouldn’t open it right away, that’s considered impolite. Within the family, though, you’ll sometimes receive the gift early on the birthday so you can wear something new on the special occasion.

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  1. Comments start HERE to win a FREE copy of Saved in Sri Lanka! GOOD LUCK!!

  2. Happy Birthday Devika! Wishing you happiness and peace. Lovely post there.

    It's so heartening to see that we share almost the same traditions. We also make a modified version of Milk rice as an offering and Vegetable briyani. I'm from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, I guess the geographical proximity explains the similarity of cultures!

    Enjoy your special day :-)

    1. Interesting indeed! And yes, I've noticed many similarities between our two cultures. :-) Thank you for your comment!

  3. Happy Birthday Devika :) Wishing you peace and happiness. Lovely post there!

    It's heartening to see that we follow similar culture. We also offer a modified version of Milk rice and prepare a variety of sweetmeats! I'm from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. I guess the geographical proximity sort of explains the similarity in our cultures.

    Have a great year ahead and enjoy your day!

    Jan :)

  4. As a foodie, I must honestly confess my mouth was watering at the very mention of the dishes you have described here. Sri Lankans do celebrate B'days in style, man...with great, mouth-watering food! Being someone who likes to do nothing but eat and read on her B'day, I'm impressed, haha! Forgive me for waxing eloquent on food...b'days are so much more than that! In any case, Happy B'day, Devika darling, and have a fantabulous day! :)

    1. Haha, nothing to forgive, life's all about food! :D I'll keep you a share today.

  5. A simple, elegant and oh-so-delicious way to celebrate a birthday. There's everything one could possibly want starting with good food, gifts, friends, family and spirituality!

    1. Thank you for the comment. It does sound nice, doesn't it? :-)

  6. Happy BIrthday, Devika! (And saying hello to Mia.)
    Thank you for sharing your Sri Lankan birthday customs, both interesting and delicious! As you know, Devika, I was born in Sri Lanka but was too young on my birthdays there to remember whether any of these traditional celebrations took place - except for the chocolate cake. There are family photos to prove the chocolate cake was certainly appreciated! I hope you are having a wonderful birthday celebration with family and friends. Kandy xx

    1. Oh really? I'd so love to look at said photo proof. ;-) One day, you'll return to Kandy, and then I'll prepare those dishes for you. How's that for an incentive?

  7. Thank you for sharing your birthday. I stopped celebrating mine so I would stop aging. (That doesn't seem to be working, but I keep trying). I don't remember as a child is I celebrated birthdays. I've blocked them all out, so I'm guessing they weren't good memories. I do recall my brother celebrated his birthday on my birthday, which could be why I blocked them all out. lol. My brother's wish was to be an only child.

    I didn't realize you were Buddhist. I think that's the most sane, kind, and rational religion on earth. So Good For you. I decided to forego all religions and talk to God one on one. We have chats nightly. Well, I chat. God's probably saying 'why won't she just find a religion and go through proper channels'? But he knows why. My sense of humor will get me in trouble in no time at all.

    And don't put me in the giveaway because I already have read your fabulous book. Highly recommend everyone read it too.

    1. Aw, thanks for the fantastic comment. I believe Buddhism is the only right religion for me. But do go ahead and talk to God, I'm sure he's endlessly entertained - I surely am by your books!

  8. Happy birthday dear.
    The day you came on earth, nobody knew that you will be one of the awesome writers. And you made it yourself.
    Keep growing
    Stay blessed


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