14th February has always been The Day of Love for people all around the world: Valentine’s Day. It is a day when two people- who enjoy being in each other’s company and feel immense “love” for each other celebrate their joint endeavour for happiness and peace. It is a day when gifts are exchanged between “couples”.
Though Valentine’s Day is rather a Western concept, but since the last 15-16 years it has had a strong grip on the Indian psyche. The question arises here, that whether it is merely propaganda of Western consumerist business or is it really a day to appreciate love?
I still remember the craze that this coveted day had among my friends during my school days, about 15 years back. Buying chocolate and roses was the demand of the hour. It actually became a prestige issue, whether a boy or a girl got a gift from someone or not. Though none can deny this to be recognition by the opposite sex and an introduction into the legacy of man-woman relationship but love seems rather commoditized. First of all, in today’s generation love is much more physical than emotional and though it is an issue of choice, most of the lovers of today not only like each other’s company but fall into the idea of loving each other as envisaged from watching the same in movies and romantic novels like Mills and Boons. Seldom have we found the compassion and patience to understand each other in completing the journey of life.
Moreover the economic aspect of events like Valentine’s Day cannot be denied. The very issue of buying gifts for each other (often costly) makes this day a business endeavour where millions of dollars of trade is involved. Thus, the celebration of love becomes a celebration of profit and loss, where the depth of love is often measured with the quality of the gift. In a sense, if true love exists between a couple then there is perhaps no need to celebrate it on a specific day but one can be made to feel special by his or her partner, any time in the year. The counter logic, however, says that there is nothing wrong in celebrating a day for love, as life is too short and celebrating a day of love is just another way of remembering that life is beautiful.
Valentine’s Day found a strong grip in the psyche of the subcontinent. Consumer and luxury goods-making companies like Archies and Hallmark do make hey during this time of the year. Thus, love is reflected on the basis of economic strength, with the rich projected as the more loving kind.
However, all said and done there does exist true love like the one shown in the classic short story of O. Henry [‘Gift of the Magi’] where a couple sold their most treasured belongings to buy each other a gift on Christmas.
Love, like any other fine human emotion, must be expressed and Valentine’s Day is a good occasion to say it.