As every Valentine’s Day arrives, controversies break out in India and passions run high, in more senses than one. There is a Google Form going around my college Facebook pages. The title says – Bajrang Dal Recruitment for Singles. I couldn’t help but think how appropriate the joke is.
Well, why do we really celebrate Valentine’s Day? Is this Valentine just a heart and a symbol of love that purists are so bothered about, or is it “Western pollution” of our culture? Maybe, it is just a marketing strategy of greeting card producers.
Well, the original Valentine’s Day was on “the ides (middle) of February as Rome’s Lupercalia, a festival of sexual licence.” It was denounced by the Christian Church, which tried to substitute and insert the names of saints to appropriate and sanitise popular festivals, as most religions in the world have historically done. The month of February was sacred to Roman goddess Juno February, the “fever of love”, but the Church replaced her with a range of martyrs, all named Saint Valentine.
With all these cheesy stuffed toys and roses and days dedicated to quintessential romantic stuff, I can’t help but think about how lame the idea is. It’s perfectly fine to celebrate love. My parents are both nearing their 50s and don’t have to give each other an array of materialistic things to show their love.
It is yet another Holiday that is meant for large corporations to make bank. And saps fall right into it and spend their green on materialistic things to show their love. In reality, if you really love someone you should be celebrating it everyday anyway. You like to buy stuff? Great. But no amount of stuff is going to save your relationship if it goes downhill.
I agree that the idea behind Valentine’s Day is as old-school as it can get. If given a serious thought it might even seem stupid, but I won’t go that far, for the plain reason that, at least we’re not being hateful. But, wait, don’t we live in a country where the idea of a girl giving her best-friend a chaste kiss on his cheek can send people looking for ‘lathis‘ to use against them?
India, has now gone beyond Kamadeva and the amatory sculptures of Khajuraho. At present, many conservatives feel rather strongly that more moral traditions that have led to stable, arranged marriages are now threatened by indecent, Western-inspired depravity. Year after year, self-appointed guardians of morality patrol parks and public spaces for couples celebrating free love. Cases of violence against alleged obscenity are becoming more pronounced as after several years of unchallenged thrashing of loving pairs, a counter-challenge has been started in recent years in the form of “Kiss for Love” and “One Billion Rising” campaigns.
If you can take undaunted pride in the extremely graphic sculptures that are seen far and wide, why can’t you let two people in love do as they please? What these religious groups sell off as obscenity is often the innocent act of holding hands. What really bugs me is how the government entities do nothing to see to the safety of these people. They are not doing anything unlawful or un-parliamentary. They’re just living a life, which they have a right to.
When will the people in our country see love for what is really is? When will we stop killing it’s very essence. This Valentine’s Day, don’t just take your partner out and spend lavishly, celebrate what you have, and condemn activities that curb our basic human rights. Love is love is love.