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Targeting Valentine’s Day: A Note

Hyper activism to oppose Valentine’s day seems to have become an annual ritual. Every year around 14th February the law and order machinery got activated to ensure that fanatic elements don’t attack the youth celebrating Valentine’s Day and the shops selling gift items for the day many times have to be protected. Valentine’s Day as such has been celebrated in our country also from last few decades but the opposition to this from conservative sections, moral police, Bajrang Dal in particular, has been on the rise. Few years ago one witnessed that leader of one such moral police Shri Ram Sene leader, Pramod Mutalik’s, face was blackened by some political activists on the eve of Valentine’s Day. This Pramod Mutalik is same person who had been vehemently opposing Valentine’s Day and such programs; to the extent that his group had attacked girls sitting in a Bangaluru pub. Just to recall, women/girls all over the country had started a pink chaddi campaign against him.

As such Valentine’s day has come to be synonymous with the exchange of messages of love all over the world. To keep company with ‘our’ own Moral Police similar groups in Saudi Arabia are also on the rampage. Their argument here is that it is such an open expression of love is ‘un-Indian’, this celebration is not in keeping with Indian culture, that multinationals are promoting ‘nude revolution’ etc. Real reasons for this intolerant behavior have to be looked for in their overall agenda to curtail liberalism, pluralism and to constrain the democratic ethos of the country.

As such Valentine’s Day has an interesting ancient legacy. It seems that the early Christian Church had at least two saints bearing this name. As per one story Roman emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry in the year 200’s A.D., as he had strong military
ambitions and he thought that single men made better soldiers (As ‘our own’ RSS believes that single men make better Pracharaks (Propagators) for Hindu Rashtra, and accordingly one can not be a RSS pracharak if one not a ‘bachelor boy’). A priest by the name Valentine protested and disobeyed the orders of the King by solemnizing the marriage of young couple’s.

According to another legend, Valentine was an early Christian who was very affectionate to young children. He refused to worship Roman Gods and on that count was imprisoned. Children missed his affection and love and tossed the notes containing love messages across the prison bars. According to many stories he was executed on 14th February. This day in due course came to be celebrated in his memory, as a tribute to his courage in defying the inhuman orders of the ruling kings and people started sending greetings and messages of love to their loved ones. The origin of the customs is slightly shrouded due to its being very ancient. Also these customs started taking local hue in different countries wherever this day began to be celebrated.

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