Valentine’s Day is filly upon us. Love is in the air. One can almost feel it, touch it, caress it. If not love, at least the gifts professing undying love. Flowers, boxes of chocolate, fancy gadgets, fashioble garments, jewellery preferably studded with diamonds... And of course the ubiquitous V-card with messages of sweet-nothings. There will be long drives, boat rides or walks along secluded streets. Parks, restaurants and movie halls will be abuzz with loving couples. But the road to love has never been smooth. Moral policing groups will also be out in full force. It is not that they are against love. But they want to give a permanent stamp to it. And so couples have been warned that if they are caught courting in public, they will be ‘purified’ with holy water and married off. Lest lovebirds think they can safely express their tender feelings through FaceBook or WhatsApp, they better watch out. For anti-Valentine groups will be monitoring social media as well. They decry Valentine’s Day as a Western or neo-colonial import, grafted on to Indian culture by marketing groups. After all, V-Day sales just by online retailers in the country this year may cross Rs 22,000 crore. However in the West too, not everyone is going ga-ga over this day of Cupid. It is mocked as ‘Extortion Day’ by a section of cynical men. For those unlucky in love, V-Day simply ‘reminds you that if you don’t have that special someone, you’re alone.’ There are anti-Valentine’s Day celebrations to help singles forget their sorrows, with ‘heartbreak’ music, shows, dinners and cocktails. It helps to know that Valentine’s Day was not always about romantic love. Legend has it that Saint Valentine was probably a Christian priest martyred in Rome. His fault was that he performed weddings for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Before his execution, he is said to have restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter, who planted an almond sapling near his grave. Till today, this tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. After Geoffrey Chaucer began celebrating February 14 as a day of love in Britain, the practice caught on in other parts of the world.
food for thought