Like a friend giving many solutions to love problems, there are as many views on celebrating Valentine’s Day as there are people in India. Everyone has a unique understanding of the festival ,whether it should be celebrated or not, whether people should be beaten for celebrating it or not, whether my children should celebrate it or not, whether it is against Indian culture or not, whether it is about boyfriend and girlfriend or married couples, whether touching each other’s hands is okay or not, whether it is okay to kiss each other on Valentine’s Day or not, whether it should be celebrated just one day in an year or all days in an year.
Oh, there is no end to it!
Some of the extreme opinions are a result of no knowledge about colorful, artistic, beautiful, liberal, and majestic Indian culture, and some are because nobody knows a thing about the history of Valentine’s Day. So, I will come back and tear apart the absurd opinions about the day of love, but before that, let’s help you build some basics!
History of Valentine’s Day | because no one taught you about it in school
Now, I am assuming you know everything about Valentine’s Day and its history. But even if the history confuses you, don’t worry! We won’t be coming to it again and again. It was just for informative purposes and building your basics before supplying the real information!
What it means today? | Love, love and just love
Today, most of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day thinking about the love of their life, same sex or opposite sex, of their mother and father, perhaps their dog or cat, or any other living being or a thing they love the most in this world. People celebrate Valentine’s Day with their families, their pets, sometimes in mental hospitals, and sometimes with homeless people to make them feel comfortable. Valentine’s Day is about loving each other, caring for each other, to remind us of other people’s value in our lives, to remind us of how beautiful love is, as an emotion, and as a religion.
The big misconception about Valentine’s Day is that it is about sex, or Public Display of Affection (PDA). Well, it is neither about PDA or sex, it is just about love, but good for everybody that sex and PDA come as a part of expressing love. Now, people don’t care if a man pees on a roadside, they don’t care if a husband beats his wife on a public place, they don’t care if a child is working at a roadside tea stall, they shoo away the amputated child asking for money, so, I don’t think PDA should be any problem to them. Affection and love are basic human emotions, and they must be allowed to flow when they have to flow. People fighting against PDA are at their utmost hypocritical level. Well, as far as I know, the one major goal of a human on earth is to reproduce. Hah! How would you do it without sex? But it’s not even about sex, we are only talking about minor touching of hands, maybe a kiss or a smooch at max. This is PDA and it should not be a crime! If you have any problem with it, if it makes you awkward, then move your head like you do when you see child labor working his sweat off on a tea stall rather than studying at a school.
Moral Policing, Violence, Vigilantism, and Hindu MahaSabha | because nobody taught them history and culture at school, and they didn’t go to a good college like JNU
Every year during the Valentine’s week, we see a huge number of violent videos circulated by people on WhatsApp and Facebook for fun, in which some illiterate vigilantes beat up young boys and girls, slapping them hard, tearing their clothes apart, and sometimes forcefully marrying them to each other in their already arranged pandals. Is this what our society has come to? Is this what Hindu culture represent?
Oh, dear, I am sure these self-appointed custodians of Hindu culture don’t know a single word of our scriptures, haven’t read any history books, or any verses by great Indian poets and writers.
Like every year, Hindu MahaSabha and Bajrang Dal again created their paramilitary forces of fascist young men, women, and priests who again went out in public spaces on 14th Feb in all major cities of India and “counseled” (their words) young men and women about either getting married to each other or not celebrating Valentine’s Day. They said they would also marry off all the young men and women who would show their love for each other on social media platforms. Unfortunately, they won’t be blessing the marriages of gay men and lesbian women.
Well, this is what Hindu MahaSabha President said to Youth Ki Awaaz reporter a day before the love day:
But this is what they actually did last year as reported by RT:
Why Valentine’s Day is more Indian than Western
Valentine’s Day is about love, and India was already a master of physical and emotional love when west could only see religion, and was involved in major power struggles over vast lands.
They only adopted Valentine’s Day with full enthusiasm after 1840s but Indians had already written volumes of majestic love and erotic poetry, and had crafted mystical sculptures full of love more than 2300 years ago.
A list of books and writers you should read to know more about ancient Indian lifestyle and unhypocritical love for other men and women:
- Gāthāsaptaśatī of Sātavāhana Hala, written by unknown poets before the year 100 CE. You can read some of its verses in the book, The Absent Traveller: Prakrit Love Poetry from the Gathasaptasati of Satavahana Hala.
- Ṛtusaṃhāram by Kālidāsa
- Meghadūtam by Kālidāsa
- Abhijñānashākuntalam by Kālidāsa
- Kumarasambhavam: The Origin of the Young God by Kālidāsa, translated by Hank Heifetz[All the books by Kālidāsa are either written around 1st or 2nd century BC or 4-5th century CE. You can read the other three books by Kālidāsa in one translated book, The Loom of Time, by Chandra Rajan.]
- Subhashitavali: An Anthology of Comic, Erotic and Other Verse , 3527 verses epigrams, grouped under 101 subject headings, and written by 362 poets. It is a book full of verses compiled by Vallabhadeva or Kāshmirkaka in 5th century CE. You can read the English translations by Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel Haksar.
- Amarukaśataka by Amaruka.
- Śatakatraya by Bhartrihari
- The Complete Illustrated Kama Sutra by Vātsyāyana
If you are not the reader type, then you can simply visit Mathura’s Central Museum – costs 5 bucks – to see hundreds of naked men and women sculptures from the 3rd century BC to 3rd century CE period. That museum is a paradise for a history lover.
You can go to:
- Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
- Markandeshwar, Maharashtra
- Sun Temple, Konark
- Sun Temple, Gujarat
- Virupaksha, Hampi
- Tripurantaka Temple, Karnataka
- Kailasa, Ellora
- Nanda Devi Temple, Almora
- Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneshwar
- Bhoramdeo Temple, Chhattisgarh
- Ranakpur, near Udaipur, Rajasthan
- Osian, Rajasthan
- Padawali, Madhya Pradesh
- Jagdish Mandir, Udaipur
Oh, the list would have never ended, but thanks to almost 300 years of loot and dacoity by Afghan forces, 750 years of foreign rule on the Indian subcontinent by 4 Turkic origin dynasties, Afghan Lodi Dynasty, Mughal Empire, and Britishers, and then, of course our division into many countries. So, this is our culture. I am sure a visit to any of these places, or reading of any these books will tell you what we feel about PDA in our culture. Well, to disclose the secret, it is everywhere and perfectly acceptable, even in its wildest form! But to maintain public order, let’s say we should only allow minor PDA, and should register cases only in extreme conditions! Good for all of us?
The books and sculptures clearly suggest our fascination for love and women is thousands of years old. But then years of Muslim, and British rule deteriorated our culture, and made us conservatives, and more similar to them, the staunch monotheistic religions of the last millennium. Actually, they learnt from us with time and have now become more progressive than what we are today! (Except some Muslim dominated countries, and ISIS; they have gone back in time)
Oh, but there is still time for us to get to back to what we used to be. Now, we have internet, lots and lots of books translated in English by great writers from Prakrit, Pali, and Sanskrit. You can read about our culture and then understand how many years behind we are from what we used to be 2000 years back. You can make other people read them, and finally together all of us can realize that the beauty of Hinduism lies in freedom of speech, expression, art, dance, music, culture, love, and literature.
Love – A Video message by Sadhguru