Punjabi's are passionate people and celebrate every occasion with much enthusiasm and gusto. Every celebration is of the utmost grandest scale with plenty of food, music, alcohol and entertainment. No matter the celebration it is an a auspicious occasion to be celebrated with all your friends and family. However celebrations are becoming more and more about your social standing with the meaning of the celebration lost in all the necessities of party planning and fear of what the community thinks. This isn't always the case, though I have noticed every discussion I have about planning a celebration it always gets taken to grand proportions and arguments ensue. Simply because to them a celebration is grand and to me it doesn't always have to be.
Such as my birthday, which is fast approaching in April and I wanted to have a gathering with our family and friends that are close to me. That doesn't mean inviting all our extended family that I still haven't had the chance of meeting. I wasn't planning on providing alcohol or an extensive buffet, just party foods like hot finger foods, savoury and sweet snacks and of course cake. Yet I mention to my husband that I would like to celebrate my birthday with a party as I would like to capture some memories on film and he didn't approve. I always have to embrace the Punjabi Culture and yet for one occasion that is about me, no one can embrace the western culture. Instead I am told it is too expensive to have a birthday party as we have to invite all the extended family and provide them with a buffet of food and alcohol for the men.
The meaning of the celebration is lost in the fear of offending people and losing our social status in the community. You wouldn't want the community to gossip about how your western daughter in law threw a birthday party with only party foods and no alcohol. Shouldn't the day be about spending time together and celebrating the day of my birth? A birthday isn't typically celebrated in Sikhism unless you are a young child. Unlike the western culture many adults celebrate their birthday with most throwing parties for reaching a mile stone like your 50th. It is about spending time with friends and family to celebrate the anniversary of your birth. Sure having a delicious buffet of food and lots of gorgeous decorations adds to the atmosphere, though it isn't the sole purpose of the celebration.
Furthermore there shouldn't always be a need to consume alcohol to enjoy the company of others. If you haven't attended a Punjabi Celebration you should know that the men will always be excessively inebriated. Which is fine for a wedding as it is usually a grand occasion but a birthday doesn't always call for alcohol. Especially when people of all ages will be mingling amongst one another. I would actually like to enjoy the company of everyone and not just the women and children because the men have to drink in their own private dining area. If we weren't in Punjab then some alcohol would be fine but here it is drunk to excess only by men.
Sometimes you wonder if it is even worth fighting for your beliefs when they are trampled on so much so to dishearten you from ever celebrating your birthday again. I have many friends and family and if I don't receive an invitation to an event for whatever the reason I understand. It doesn't mean they don't care for you. It might just mean they can't cater for everyone, though whatever the reason it usually isn't personal.
What would you do in this situation?
Or have you also been in a similar situation?