I couldn't have asked for more. Or could I?
In a birthday email, a good Nepali friend wrote:
In Hinduism, 84 is taken as a special number. Many people in Nepal do something called a "chaurasi pooja" to mark this special achievement. It is also taken as a special number because there are supposed to be 84 lakh (84 thousand!) life cycles and one can be reborn in different cycles including the human being.I got busy on Google to learn what I'd missed. Here's what I found:
Chaurasi Pooja -- Marking the Transition to Living Ancestor
The chaurasi rite honors elderly people who have reached the age of 83 and several months. That span includes one thousand full moons.
According to Hindu philosophy, there are four stages of life:
- celibate life (an oxymoron in our culture!)
- house holder
- forest dweller
- wandering ascetic
After this ritual, elder people are respected as living ancestors like a god or goddess.Another source indicates:
Chaurasi puja or the ceremonial worship conducted during the age of 84 is one of the unique traditions of Nepal which raises the status of the person next to god and frees them from all kinds of social bonds.Hmmm. Breaking away from social bonds is right up my alley!
People put tika (the mixture of red powder, yogurt, and rice) on the forehead of the 84-year-old.
Gifts are given. This process can take various forms, but this one appeals to overweight me:
Finally, here's a look at the rite being performed. The picture ends after about four minutes.
But I still loved my birthday celebration here.