It is the time of the year yet again to celebrate love and romance. Yes, I am talking about the Valentine’s Day on 14th of February. What is the significance of this day anyway? Valentine’s Day, currently a popular festival among Indian youth has been propagated widely in the 1990’s by greeting card and gift companies as a marketing gimmick. Love, Pyar, Mohabbat, Ishq were already imbibed concepts in the young Indian minds through mass media. The Valentine propaganda was aptly timed and it picked popularity.
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Although its origin is associated with a Catholic saint named Valentine, the fact is Valentine’s Day is not a religious holiday and never really has been. Valentine’s Day has historical roots mainly in fertility festivals and the medieval notion that birds pair off to mate on February 14. Traditional Hindu culture discourages public displays of affection between the sexes, including hand-holding, which Valentine’s Day encourages, and it is also resented by some as a Christian and western influence.
Ironically, ancient Indian culture (which Hindu activists claim to be protecting) is filled with erotic and sexual images. The Hindu god of love, Kamadeva, made couples fall in love by shooting arrows made of flowers from a bow composed of sugarcane. The famous Khajuraho caves in Madhya Pradesh consist of ancient sculptures that explicitly depict sexual foreplay and intercourse. Not to forget is the Kama Sutra text, which celebrates lovemaking in graphic detail.
I am personally not for or against the observation of February 14 as a festival. I just seem to question the fact whether love needs a particular day to celebrate. Isn’t love an everyday phenomenon? Do we really need to wait an entire year to celebrate Love, which is so intrinsic to life? Celebration is in each small thing ‘people in love’ do for each other. No gender-stereotypes work here because love is so natural. If Valentine’s Day is about mating, let us also give our unprecedented support to the love of people from different caste, creed, religion, nationalities and also LGBT groups, because that is also love whether common people approve of it or not. Our tradition may or may not support romance not conforming to societal norms; it is nobody’s business to judge two consenting adults.
Love as all of us have grown up to believe knows no boundaries. It is eternal and one loses all fear when one falls in love. Remember, “Pyaar kiya to darna kya” from the classic movie Mughal-e-Aazam. Multiple generations hummed this song and loved the idea on screen, but at the same time dis-approved of any romantic link-ups that may not be as per their prescribed societal norms in the real life situation. “Baharon phool barsao” was another beautiful number which talked about asking the nature to bestow its beauty on the beloved, when she arrives. Their meeting was a celebration and no valentine’s day was required to celebrate their beautiful relationship. “Isharon isharon mein dil lene wale” tickled every youth for decades with subtle hints, as against many new age Bollywood songs which fail to raise any emotion despite explicit content. Coming to the more recent past, there have been songs like “Tu meri zindagi hai” which implies you are my life and my being is incomplete without you. The most popular ghazal singer, Late Mr. Jagjit Singh has also sung a beautiful ghazal “Tere aane ki jab khabar mehke, teri khushboo se saara ghar mehke”. These songs have an appeal to the heart- “dil ko chhoote hain”. These depict celebration of love in everyday life subtly.
Celebrating a particular day with flowers or gifts is fine as long as the other party is a willing participant in it. Learning to respect women in general is critical. If you hurt her in the night and give her flowers the next morning to celebrate, there is just no point. Respect her and every day of her life with you will become Valentine’s Day. Common experience is that this day is seen as an opportunity for road side Romeos to make romantic proposals to any female of their choice and a refusal of the same invites trouble for the concerned individual. She fears being hurt, physically and emotionally, while making her choice. It is in this context that someone has said,
“If you love someone, set them free.
If they come back, they were yours, if they don’t, they never were”
And if one particular person refuses, respect their choice and move on in life. Believe in the philosophy popularised by the famous SRK movie “Dil to Pagal Hai”- “Someone somewhere is made for you” and God will help you meet them.
I choose to celebrate love every day. Let those who want to celebrate Valentine’s Day enjoy it peacefully. Live and let live. Respect women. Spread Love.
The chocolate, gifts, jewellery, accessories brands which have been established to sell the most as Valentine’s Day gifts should certainly look at this opportunity for making a difference to our current societal make-up. This “Day of Love” certainly offers many a cause for brands to take.……..