I was thinking of doing something special this Valentine’s Day, maybe a short trip, or a candle light dinner someplace nice. But as I made my plans, it struck me that they may not be in keeping with my cultural values and heritage. After all, don’t powerful political and religious groups dedicate a lot of time and energy beating up 16 year olds holding hands, vandalizing shops that sell greeting cards and cuddly teddy bears, forcing couples into marriage or into tying a rakhi (depending on whether they say they are lovers or just friends or brother and sister). Surely, saying “Happy Valentine’s Day”, or giving a loved one a piece of chocolate has to be a terrible crime, or the aforementioned political groups would definitely focus on other pressing issues – corruption, poverty, women’s problems and such? But I am confused which aspect of Valentine’s Day endangers the Indian culture –
Is it being in love? But that can’t be, because love has been written and sung about in our country for centuries. And come on, love is an emotion as old as time itself.
Is it the teddy bears and the greeting cards? But they are so cute, even the moral police has to agree. And they are sold not only on Valentine’s Day, though I guess that the sales might peak at this time of the year.
Is it the commercialization? But then, isn’t every major festival commercialized. I no longer check my holiday calendar to find out the date of an upcoming festival; I just have to watch TV for a couple of minutes, to learn about festival dates, offers, sales and discounts in connection to the celebrations.
Maybe it is St Valentine? Then again, various religions have been practiced in this country for years, and no one need have any particular vengeance against St Valentine. And let us accept it; I hardly think anyone planning on celebrating is giving much of a thought to St Valentine. They would be more worried about the flowers and the chocolates and the gifts, and about avoiding the blows and the lathis, should they come across any member of the guardians of our culture and heritage.
Ah, I am unable to find out just how celebrating Valentine’s Day would make me “Un Indian” and unpatriotic. But whatever said and done, I want to emphasize that I think the culture and values of this country are strong enough to stand a blow caused by any gift I get on this day. So my dear Valentine, if you are reading (you better be!), I will allow you to gift me something nice, thoughtful and EXPENSIVE, with pleasure.