February 14, a very special day indeed. Lovers swoon with mushy cards, cuddly teddies, and candle-lit dinners. Lovebirds giggle away in cozy corners, sharing a strawberry sundae, oblivious of onlookers! With an ongoing debate on the validity of this day that it’s against our cultural values and ethos, it cannot be denied that love knows no culture or religion.
How it all began
It all began with a third Century tale of heroism, bravery and love. A St. Valentine took the courage to defy the Emperor Claudius. Why? The power thirsty emperor wanted to possess the biggest army possible. Since men refused to join the army for the fear of losing their families, Emperor Claudius banned marriages. But braving all odds, for what he believed, St. Valentine continued to get lovers married secretly, till he was thrown into prison by the cruel emperor. While being in prison he befriended the jailor’s daughter and just before being hanged, he left a note to her, signed `From your Valentine’.
Valentine’s for all
What the emperor tried to erase back in history still thrives in our present century. This day is celebrated all across the world. Openly or secretly, it only proves that love thrives in all possible conditions. But is this day only meant for lovers? Not necessarily. Valentine’s Day can be celebrated by all who enjoy life to the fullest. Wearing the colour red to work, buying fresh flowers and placing them in a vase in your house, baking a cake, cooking something special for yourself or your family, going out with friends for a movie or lunch, watching your favourite movie at home over popcorn and coffee are just as special in celebrating this day.
Keeping aside the red hearts for lovers for a while, this day can be used to express one’s affection for a friend, a sibling, parents or even your pet. We need not limit love to only our spouse or a lover, your favourite plant in your balcony can also be a part of this celebration.
Love yourself first, if you wish to love another. So celebrate this day even if you are single. If you’re in a relationship, don’t let commercialism bog you down. No diamonds and pearls, or expensive dinners can earn you the affection of another. Don’t expect riches; be true to one another, stand up for one another and be committed to one another: This what matters at the end.
For The Hindu, February 12, 2007.