A chain of schools in Uttar Pradesh has decided to give Valentine's Day celebrations a miss this year by observing it as a day of mourning.
The City Montessori School in Lucknow with 32,000 students across its 21 branches wants to observe the traditional lovers' day Feb 14 as a sad occasion that commemorates the killing of Saint Valentine.
"After all, the day is remembered because Saint Valentine was beheaded on this day for quietly promoting marriages against the will of the ruler who had banned marital alliances," said City Montessori School founder Jagdish Gandhi.
"We would like to urge the UN, too, to do something to make people across the globe understand that this is a very solemn day and remember Saint Valentine as a martyr," Gandhi told IANS here.
"The saint was beheaded on Feb 14 in the year 269. So does it make any sense to hold all kinds of wild celebrations on a solemn occasion like this?" he asked.
The school had observed Feb 14 as 'Family Day' in 2006.
Gandhi's 30-year-old institution figures in the Guinness Book of Records for enrolling the highest number of students in a single chain within a single city.
"I am strongly of the view that the basic objective of this great day has been terribly distorted by commercialised, vested interests that have given rise to many interpolations and perversions," said Gandhi.
"We cannot think of taking to the streets to oppose the Valentine's Day celebrations like some political outfits have been doing in India. But we have a logical reason to oppose it in our own way," he added.
In a note circulated to students and their parents, the school authorities have sought to explain that there was no dispute about the belief that Saint Valentine was beheaded by Roman emperor Claudius II simply because he was getting soldiers secretly married in defiance of the monarch's diktat to the contrary.
The emperor was of the view that marriages dampened the fighting spirit of soldiers.