Valentine’s Day is over. What a relief! Till Valentine’s Day all that I kept seeing was red everywhere. Now. Now. Don’t imagine red bloodshot eyes fuming with anger. Valentine season always brings with it red hearts, rising passions everywhere – in newspapers, on the net, on hoardings, on the radio!
“Nothing wrong in that” you might say.
“After all, red hearts remind one of the beautiful emotion that makes you float on clouds!”
True. But, too much of red-hot (sorry hearts) hovering above and around can make you dizzy. And that’s surely not healthy news for the heart! Even Saint Valentine might have been flattered had he been alive today, to witness the frenzy his act of uniting lovers in holy matrimony has become. On the other hand, he might have also twisted and turned in his grave to see how commercialized the day named after him has become today. Be it the programmes that we all watch on television to the latest albums that appear in the market in honour of Valentine’s Day- everything seems to be possessed by the Valentine mania. Almost everything caters to the ‘business of expressing love’.
What started off as an act of kindness for forsaken lovers, has over the years transformed into a large scale industry with companies doing brisk business churning out cards that express mushy emotions for your loved one. Not stopping at that, there are innumerable gift shops catering to the sweet tooth of women selling attractively packed chocolate boxes and candies. Then, there are the perfumes, lingerie, heart-shaped balloons, teddy bears and of course red roses vying for equal attention! Not to leave behind the DVDS, skin lotions, wine, expensive jewellery and of course the parties that supposedly add to the charm of Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day today, in India, is no longer a revolution. If you do not want to be left out you better be part of this jumble-bumble of expressing love on one particular day. (As if to say other days are far too insignificant to drown in love!) So, who wants to be left behind! Aimlessly, Valentine’s Day is celebrated fanning the flames of love that convinces youngsters (even older people today) that love can be expressed only in the Valentine manner. No other way! That’s the mantra for the mobile totting, SMS messaging generation of today. Sex today is not limited to committed relationships. Love today is not an undying emotion for one person. It is an urgent instinct to be satiated. No wonder Valentine’s Day comes as a blessing in disguise for the young impulsive western-lifestyle brainwashed youngsters. Why! Even China has jumped into the foray!
No wonder Roman Emperor Claudius had to adopt an entirely different mantra when faced with the ‘basic instinct’ of humans. Helpless before the carnal desires of his soldiers, the chap just went ahead and banned weddings! Attraction towards the opposite sex subsequently followed by the desire to make love is no modern discovery. It has been in existence from the time Adam and Eve began their journey of procreation. So, during the period of Claudius, when the ban was imposed, there emerged an angel in the form of the priest Saint Valentine who helped the soldiers in the Roman Emperor’s army by getting them married so that they could enjoy the fruits of love before they embarked on their battle duties.
The celebration of Valentine’s Day in the month of February has its roots I gather, in the age-old belief that this particular month was a time of mating for all sorts of creatures in the universe. Carnivals and festivals were conducted during this time attracting both men and women from afar. Very much like our weddings and festivals wherein boys and girls pick up opportunities to get to know each other and begin a possible relationship. History has it that during the period of Saint Valentine a festival used to be celebrated in honour of Juno the Roman goddess of women and marriage. A part of the custom that is said to have prevailed then was celebrating the God of Fertility with women gathered writing love letters and casting them in a large urn. The letters would be picked up at random and the man picking up the name of a woman would woo her throughout the year!
‘From Your Valentine’ were the last words that Saint Valentine had written in his cell to the jailor’s blind daughter after having been jailed for infuriating Emperor Claudius for conducting marriages on the sly in spite of the ban laid on marriages. These words gained immense popularity after his death and are still being used by lovers the world over. Valentine’s Day has become such a popular phenomenon everywhere that many couples plan their engagements and weddings on Valentine’s Day. Adolescent school children are greatly excited by such events giving scant importance to the traditional festivals that we have in our own families, communities and country all because this day has gained a yuppie status.
“What is acceptable abroad has to be good na?” is the common refrain.
“It is a ‘cool’ way of expressing love,” you are told again.
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely do not belong to any fanatic Hindu organization forcing its views down the throat of democratic India. Nor am I part of groups that have recently made rules to catch hold of couples found in public places including ‘zoos’ and get them married! It’ s only that people celebrating this ‘special’ day never pause to wonder the insignificance of the celebration. I agree that anything that is good and harmless anywhere in the world can be acknowledged and accepted. That is fine. But, is there any need for the hype and hysteria that Valentine’s Day whips up? Can we not appreciate and incorporate this day (if it has become so indispensable!) into our lives with less drama and foolish behaviour? Can we not use this day to express our affection not just for lovers but also show our thoughts of consideration for all those who matter to us irrespective of age and sex? Our families, our friends -the list is endless. We gain good karma too in the process – mind you!
An afterthought: Do we really need a day to show that we love and care? Can we not do tiny actions of caring everyday instead of waiting for this one day in the year to express love and kindness? Saint Valentine would have also wished it that way. I am sure.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day.