It is just 4 days to go for international day- Valentine’s day and I received many suggestions that I should pen down my thoughts on impact of Valentine day on Indian culture and youth. When my childhood friend spoke to me after a long time with the urge of clearing the misconception among the youth, I had no choice than writing down rumbling of my soul on this topic..
We all know Valentine’s Day is a celebrated on February 14 each year but first we shall understand why it is celebrated. The story goes like this, long time back Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry. Saint Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings of soldiers against this rule of the land. Saint Valentine was executed for his crime. The rule become absolute as the time passed. But injustice with Saint Valentine and his sacrifice is still remembered and many Christian churches celebrate the day to denote the Valentine’s sacrifice for love and for the society. An inspiring story of a man who stood by right thing and faced death for it. The celebration as well as remembering the sacrifice is good.
But what is the format of this remembrance today?
Today Valentine’s Day is a booming multimillion-dollar industry. The Greeting Card Association says more than 200 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, excluding the hundreds of millions that schoolchildren exchange. Also, it is the number one holiday for florists, with more than 300 million roses produced yearly for it.
Till 17th Century the celebration was comprised of public holiday and special prayers in churches remembering the sacrifice by Valentine. In 18th Century, this remembrance day evolved as the tradition to express love by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards to people who love or have affection for. This was majorly limited in Europe. Since the 19th century, handwritten greeting cards were replaced with mass-produced polished greeting cards making this tribute to Valentine as an economic booster tool. Valentine’s Day celebrations did not catch on in India until around 1992. It was spread due to the programs in commercial TV channels, such as MTV, dedicated radio programs and love letter competitions, in addition to an economic liberalization that allowed the explosion of the valentine card industry. The celebration is used by people as a reason to show or be forced to show their affection in public or in private.
Innocence lost: Today, the Valentine Day continues as a time to promote manufactured love—filled with trite greeting cards and ubiquitous heart-shaped candies. Many people feel obligated by societal expectations to buy gifts and send Valentine cards to loved ones. Others mark the day by indulging in casual sex. Condom sales skyrocket before the “day for lovers,” which is also known as National Condom Day. One condom producer reported that retail sales increase by 30 to 40% around this time.
Does India need any special day arrangement to express love or affection? Remember India is the country which worships Kamadeva and has given Kamasutra to this world. So is expressing love in such a country be harmful? No, it is not expression of love, but the other issues this forced day bring in with it. It is seen in India that Valentine’s day is promoting vulgarity, party culture and sex abuse in teenagers. It also leads to depression and deaths. In modern days, youth in India wants to follow Valentine blindly and many cases it is seen that proposals and rejections took ugly turns and resulted into attacks on girls who rejected the love proposal. Many cases boys or girls could not sustain the rejection and took their lives under suicidal depression. Even western world is not exemption for such unwanted outcomes: http://www.ibtimes.com/broken-heart-syndrome-high-suicide-rates-shadow-valentines-day-some-1087418
One may ponder if we shall take good things from West or bad!
Valentine Day celebration in India is seen as cultural contamination from the West. Shiv Sena, Bajarang Dal and many other Hindu and Muslim organisations have asked their followers to shun the Valentine Day celebration and the public admission of love. These protesting organisations each year warn couples not to kiss or hug in public places on Valentine Day. They clarify each year that they are not against love or compassion, but they criticize vulgar exhibition of love at public places. Sounds logical? Valentine’s Day has been strongly criticized by even intellectuals from the Indian left.
I believe expression of love isn’t something that needs to be fixed with time. You can always show or never show love. It should not be based on a day where people are asked to buy things and do things to prove their love. Just because a man does not buy his wife flowers on February 14th, does not mean that this woman whom he has been married to for forty years, he suddenly does not love. There shouldn’t just be one day in a year for you to pamper your love and shower affection. Each day together should be special for a couple. The way now a days Valentine’s Day is celebrated makes it a celebration of materialism. Valentine’s day symbolizes the fact in Western world that love and sex have become synonyms which is not the case in Indian culture, at least yet!
I believe that Valentine day is just any other day but enforced as days to be celebrated when really it is just a way to generate revenue. Total spending in 2011 on Valentine day only in USA was more than $15.7 billion; this might show the magnitude of business impact, interest and need. Friendship, love and sending cards are wonderful things, and God is not opposed to romance at the right time in the right way. But does the history of Valentine’s Day taint the modern practices? According to psychologists all the public displays of love and declarations of undying devotion can sometimes leave single people feeling alienated and excluded leading to all sort of psychological disorders.
You will agree that money can’t bring you love, nor can expensive gifts and luxurious holidays. Act of care, kindness and faith is enough for expressing love to your beloved. Valentine’s day has actually set norms for youngsters where they are made to believe that they have to shower their partner with expensive gifts to keep the relationship going on. This day brings nightmares to the singles out there who are either done with being in a relationship or yet to find their soulmate. Everyone around is talking dates and chocolates and they simply feel like hiding under stones. While falling in and out of love is quite normal, it is extremely absurd when people start comparing how their previous date was so much better with teddies and tulips. It has become a problem with youth judging on materialistic ideas of expressing love. They often land up regretting later so what is point in celebrating this day itself which has no cultural or social or spiritual significance?
To conclude I feel if you really want to remember the sacrifice of St. Valentine, pray for his soul to get peace. Do something motivating and inspiring to others taking cue from Valentine’s sacrifice. The current format of celebration is not reverence to St. Valentine. Let’s not be blind followers and get into marketing trap. People who strongly bat for Valentine day celebration on the name of freedom and democracy need to think how many of us send greeting cards to soldiers on Vijay Diwas which has a reason to celebrate and proper way to pay the respect. In Western culture it is common to see the aged people living lonely or end up in ‘old age homes’ and hence it seems logical to celebrate Mother’s Day’ and Father’s Day’ for just one day in a year so that at least on that day people will meet their parents! Do we need that in a country where people touch feet of their parents every day? Do we need a special day in a year to express our love? I think India does not need Valentine day, at least not the distorted form currently seen in the world. Instead we should do something inspiring to pay respect for the sacrifice of St. Valentine.
People who still would like to continue celebrating this Day in its distorted and worst format, here I am wishing you a