(Last Updated on : 11/09/2009)
Different nations and different people have different ways of showing their love and affection for others. Recognition of services and assistance rendered takes different ways, ranging from words of commendation to gifts of costly articles and titles. The Christians show their love to one another during 'Christmas' and 'new year days' by sending cards containing sententious sayings and expressions of love and good wishes. On marriage occasions and the celebration of birthdays, friends and relations send the bride and bridegroom as well as the individual, whose birthday is being celebrated, marriage presents and birthday gifts.
The Hindus observe a similar practice also. There is not a Hindu marriage or religious ceremony but is closed with what is called asirvatham or blessings on the bridal pair or observer of the ceremony. All the people in the village are invited to be present on the occasion to take part in the cumulative blessings on the individuals. Mere acquaintances are given pinches of yellow coloured rice with turmeric and these they shower on the head of the recipients of the blessing. But the blessings of friends and relations take tangible material gifts from cash payment to costly ornaments and valuable clothes as well. Near relatives and intimate friends bring clothes, and ornaments, while distant relatives and ordinary friends make presents to the party of a small amount going by the name of motharappanam. This name was derived from the use to which the collection was put.
During the occasion of the asirvatham of the Hindu bridal pair, some present gifts to the bride and some to the bridegroom. When newly made brahmacharis are blessed, the blessing also takes the tangible form of gifts of silk of plain cloth that are fit to be worn by him. Similarly girls and pregnant women, etc., are given gifts suitable for them and also the occasion. The way in which the gifts are presented is striking. The family purohit or preceptor is given the gifts one by one. The priest says the name of the giver of the gift, his relationship to the recipient and the nature of the object presented aloud, in customary language in style. All gifts made are to be recognized by return payment in some special cases, and by gifts of fruits and pan supari in other cases.
This custom of return is not found among persons other than the Hindus. It may be intended to serve the purpose of a receipt, acknowledging the receipt of the gift or it may have even deeper significance. Courtesy requires that the recipient should thank the donor and the return gift is perhaps in lieu of the acknowledgment of the gift with thanks. Moreover, the Hindu spirit is such that any favour not returned is considered to be a debt to be repaid sooner or later. If it is not forthwith returned, the donor fears that the favour would remain in his karmic account book as an item to the credit of the donor. In fact many Hindu sends for his debtor or creditor and closes his accounts even on his death-bed. He did this by paying or receiving at least a small portion of the amount due in full settlement of his claims. This action is mainly done to avoid coming into future relationship in the next birth to pay or receive payment of this debt.