urdu in birthdays

Six Ways to Bring Urdu in Birthdays

The Urdu word for birthdays is “Salgirah“, which refers to an old tradition of tying a knot in a rope for every birthday to remember the age of a person. My dadi (paternal grandmother) remembered the time this used to happen before diaries and modern calendars took away the need for this method. Sharing six fun ways to bring Urdu in birthdays.

The Urdu equivalent of “Happy Birthday” is “Salgirah Mubarik“. While many of us, mostly elders still wish on a birthday using the Urdu phrase and adding “jeeyo hazaroon saal, har saal mein hon din hazaar” (May you live a thousand years, may every year have a thousand days) Urdu is far removed from most of our birthday celebrations these days.

Two years ago I was attending the birthday celebrations for my daughter in her preschool, a place with an amazing multicultural and global outlook. The children knew how to sing the birthday song in English, Spanish and French. One of the teachers was from Italy and sang the birthday song in Italian and a young boy who knew the language proudly joined her. She then turned to me and asked if I would like to sing the “Pakistani” version of “Happy Birthday”. I was stumped.

Since that day, I resolved the bring Urdu in our birthday celebrations to have a truly bilingual representation. It’s quite simple really and here are a few suggestions:

Six Ways to Bring Urdu in Birthdays

1. Teach your children to wish “Salgirah Mubarik” along with Happy Birthday. Teach them by modelling it yourself.

2. The “Happy Birthday” song is the most popular and well-known song around the world. It’s natural that your children will love singing it. You can introduce them gently and enthusiastically to the Urdu version of Happy Birthday. Check out this post I have done on two versions of a urdu Happy Birthday song.

Below is a version of me and my daughter singing “jungle mein mungal tere he dum se” from the old Pakistani movie:

Enthusiam is key! Watch your children catch yours and have fun with the Urdu happy birthday song. We sing the first two lines and my daughter now adds the name of the birthday person within the words.

3. Make Urdu visible in the celebrations. You can either write “Salgirah Mubarik” on a blackboard or sign, as my friend did for my birthday this year (picture at the top). Or add it on the cake like the picture below (another birthday surprise by a lovely friend)

urdu in birthdays

I have also written “Salgirah Mubarik” in Urdu and given it to the bakery, who are happy to add it.

urdu in birthdays

4. When you write birthday cards, you can add Urdu along with the English. Sometimes I write the whole card in Urdu and if I’m giving it to a child who cannot read Urdu yet, I just write “Salgirah Mubarik” in Urdu or their name (I love watching their eyes open wide when they see their name in Urdu).

[Read more: How to make party favors with a touch of Urdu]

5. Incorporate some traditional characters as birthday themes. The theme of my son’s first birthday was “Maula Jatt”. My daughter is loving Burka Avenger these days and that just might be the theme of her next birthday party!

6. Lastly you can follow any traditions you remember from your family. My dadi would lovingly give “Sadqa” (charity) in the name of the birthday boy/girl accompanied with a million of her duas that still ring in my mind.

Let me know how you liked these suggestions or if you have some of your own! Would love to hear from you!

11 thoughts on “Six Ways to Bring Urdu in Birthdays

  1. I’m a 21 year old student and I live in Karachi. I stumbled across your article and it made me so happy! I actively try to inculcate Urdu in as much of my spoken and written verse as I can because it’s being ignored these days. I get Salgirah Mubarak written on cakes all the time (it’s how my friends know I got the cake :p). Many a times people find simple Urdu words foreign and that’s honestly saddening. You’re doing a great job! 😀

    1. Thanks so much Maheen for your comment and efforts to keep Urdu alive and relevant 🙂 I agree, it’s saddening when people feel proud of their lack of knowledge about Urdu when it’s their mother tongue. Do keep following the blog. If you’re interesting subscribe to it so that you don’t miss a post and follow on http://www.Facebook.com/urdumom or Instagram/Twitter/snapchat: urdumom – jahan bhi dil chahe!

    1. What a trip down memory lane!! Thanks so much for reminding me about this song! Is it ok with you if I add it to the main post with credits to you? I remember singing this song on happy occasions but now that I think of it, it could very well be birthdays!
      Love it!! Thanks for sharing and commenting! Loved hearing from you.

      1. Absolutely! Go ahead and add to the original post. No need to credit me for it 🙂

  2. Despite the need of English Language in the current time. We must not forget that Urdu is Pakistan’s National Language. And it is our responsibility to make it live in any way, we can.

  3. Pyari beti Urdu ki qadar daan. Bohat khushi howi ye dekh Kay k tumko Urdu say kiss wafer lag ao hay . In sha Allah tumharey bachey zaroor tumhari tarha apni Madri zabaan key rakhwali kareingay .
    Allah karey zorey zabaan aur zyada . Bohat saree dua ‘en

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