Jennifer Shaheen Hussain
Valentine’s Day as cheesy it may be turning out to be among several millennials still continues to appeal to many. This makes February a month most people of all ages especially the youth wait for. The month is usually analogous to heart-shaped balloons, roses, and amorous songs to celebrate traditionally romantic love. However, is only February exclusively a season to celebrate love and togetherness?
Valentine’s Day is a cliché for many in a culturally diverse nation-state like India. On one hand, due to its religious diversity, people worship different deities, but, simultaneously for a capitalism induced society, people also follow a century old pagan practice that blended into the mainstream religious practices of the west. The Roman festival of Lupercalia – an event and date that became synonymous with ‘love’ – was celebrated to promote fertility in women. But its barbaric acts where women had to voluntarily subject themselves to whippings from men believing it would help infertility remains definitely un-romantic.
Keeping aside the origin of V-Day, the celebrations also revives fresh memories of one’s childhood or even adulthood, where families, spouses, partners, neighbours, and friends have been celebrating togetherness on many occasions across different seasons.
February marks the farewell of the winters in India and is the onset of the blooming spring. Right after the English New Year, to observe the fecund season and end of the winter solstice, the harvest festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated across the country. In Assam, Magh Bihu is observed for the harvesting of the winter crops.
The season itself begins with festivities. This is also a season of weddings, picnics, vacays, or even weekend getaways. Perhaps, the blossoming of flowers, make the minds of people also spring-like. Some express their love through priceless gifts, some find a way through gastronomy, and some believe in celebrating by just spending some quality time together. Each of these expression has a commonality of celebrating togetherness. After all, what is love but an extension of a union of two or more beings in any form of relationship?
Nearly over two decades of celebrating Valentine ’s Day in the country, should and can love and togetherness be labeled and restricted to a single day? Is a single day, week or a month enough to exchanging Dopamine? Or is it reflected everyday in the little things people do for each other? Or is it just a spring-thing, where we are gleeful and seek and give affection and love?
Can it also be that Valentine’s Day is a mere manifestation of visual representation coded with messages of receiving messages in myriad ways? A country that has been a victim of cultural imperialism has it also given in to the market driven consumerism that commodifies love through grandiose presentations.
Building bonds and enhancing them is the effort made to sustain the togetherness. Can it be exclusively be confined to only one day, or does love bloom across all the seasons of the sun?