Indian Birthday Gift Traditions

Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

People in countries around the world have their own way of celebrating birthdays according to their cultures and traditions. Many birthday celebrations are marked by parties, songs and gift-giving. The types of gifts and the way they are presented can vary from region to region.

In India, families follow some specific traditions for giving gifts. Along with traditional gifts, Indian birthday celebrations also incorporate some other cultural influences.


Giving new articles of clothing as a birthday gift is a favourite tradition in Indian culture. Loved ones give females a traditional sari to mark this event. Saris are vibrantly-coloured, hand-dyed fabrics worn wrapped around the body as a dress or skirt. The fabric dyes are primarily jewel tones, such as turquoise, sapphire, ruby or rich shades of pink. They often feature intricate metallic embroidery work. For males, gifts are similarly coloured silk or linen trousers and shirts.


Children are given chocolates to share with their classmates. At school, the birthday girl or boy hand delivers the chocolates to other students in the class while wearing their new colourful garments. If the chocolates are gifted from parents, the receiver kneels at the feet of his parents to show respect. It is also common for families to gather and visit a shrine, where the birthday girl or boy receives a blessing for the coming year.

Gift Wraps

Along with the traditional gifts given on the birthday are some stipulations concerning how to present the gifts. Wrap clothing or chocolates in colourful tissue paper or fabric. Tie the presents with decorative ribbon or twine. It is considered very unlucky to give gifts wrapped in black or white paper because these colours symbolise unhappiness.


In some areas in India, elements of western birthday traditions are incorporated into the celebration. Loved ones in India sing the same birthday song to the guest of honour as in western cultures. Because of this influence, it is also common for parents to give children gifts that might be seen in western cultures, such as entertainment devices, electronics, toys and dolls.