Since the Middle Ages, 14 February is the date when couples (both married and unmarried) believed to express some extra-love towards their partner which they perhaps don’t shower rest of the year. So they go to restaurants or elsewhere, exchange flowers and other gifts, apart from doing other things which they believe are beneficial to their relationships. For me, the matter of concern is why don’t they express it throughout the year, if it is so important and beneficial.
I don’t know whether Valentine’s Day add some meaning to the relationships or not. But I am of the opinion that if Valentine’s Day somehow brings people closer to each other and strengthens their relationships, then for sure it makes the world a better place.
If celebrations like this can reduce divorce rate, offer women due justice and equality and make marriages more successful than I would suggest that it should be a legal right of every individual (if not a fundamental right). Rather, every individual should be made duty bound to celebrate it.
In fact, all the nations, throughout the globe (more specifically, where this culture originated) must declare a public-holiday on this day. After all love matters the most. Love is basic requirement for any happy family. And families make nations. Happy families therefore would make happier nations. However, whether celebration of Valentine’s Day could bring people closer in reality, and make marriages and relationships stronger is debatable. You decide.
Nonetheless, it has been very unpleasant to see right wing extremist groups in Indian Sub-continent not only criticizing vociferously the day but also using violence to prevent its celebration. For instance, boys and girls have been beaten up by the right wing extremists in India many a times, at many places in the past. Couples were threatened with enforced marriages if they are caught together on Valentine’s Day. Not only this, even the mainstream political parties did not hesitate to indulged in this non-sense with the “western culture” rhetoric. It has been called a shameful act indeed.
To make it sound further non-sense, some groups said that celebrating this day would encourage teenage pregnancy. However, I am unable to understand how can just one day of co-hanging (Valentine’s Day) would increase (or for that matter decrease) the pregnancy (that too after the medical revolution) at an earlier age? How about the co-hangings throughout the year? How about co-education? You decide.
One group also propounded the idea of replacing Valentine’s Day with a ‘Parent’s Worship Day’. Ironically, Hindu preacher Asaram, who was charged with child-sexual abuse (rape actually) and under trial now, upheld almost the same views on Valentines Day. Whom to be ashamed of? You decide.
I am astonished at the hypocrisy of these right wing eastern groups (especially in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) who are so much opposed to the Western culture. They oppose western culture by issuing pamphlets, going on radio, TV, internet etc. Do they not know printing machine, radio, TV, cell-phones, and internet are all very much western inventions? Why don’t they boycott the dish-washer, washing machines, refrigerators, juicers, AC and other machines made by the West? Electricity too is neither Indian, nor Pakistani nor a Bangladeshi invention. Even the bulbs and CFL’s are Western.
Having shown them this, I must now take them a little away from their kitchens, washrooms and bedrooms. Their forms of government (the democracy), the election system, the judicial system, the police system, administrative systems are all influenced by the West. Not only this, their food, clothing and shelter too are very much western. If you don’t believe it, then you simply need to make food, clothes and shelter for millions by NOT using any modern technology of the West.
The right wingers of the sub-continent call it a “Shameful act” sometimes, on both cultural and religious grounds. However it is astonishing that these groups are not ashamed of their corruption (India for instance is among top 70 corrupt countries of the world). They are also not ashamed of hunger, starvation and subsequent farmer-suicides on a massive scale. I don’t understand why do they become shame-proof when it comes to their rape culture (as in India), dowry system, sex-ratio, infanticide killings and communalism or the killings of children (in Pakistan)? Why are they not ashamed of human rights violations and persecutions of minorities in Kashmir and Baluchistan? I fail to understand that why are they not ashamed of massive illiteracy and poor health conditions. I again leave it to my esteemed readers to decide what is more shameful – Dalit scholars’ enforced suicide in Hyderabad Central University (India) or the co-hanging of boys and girls on 14th February?
As mentioned at the outset, I am not here to pass any judgment on whether celebrating Valentine’s Day is good or bad or should it be celebrated or not. Celebration (non-celebration or boycotting it) hardly concerns me. You decide, if it concerns you. Also make a decision on whether its celebration should concern you or not and how much?
To me it rather seems a trivial issue. A non-issue indeed, it seems, when we look at the more serious socio-political and economic troubles Indian sub-continent is going through. To my readers, I ask what according to your religion, culture and conscience requires more priority? You decide.
[Mujahid Mughal is a BSR Fellow in the Department of Geography at Aligarh Muslim University, India.]