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Really taking it to heart

And in direct proportion to our desire to revel in Valentine’s Day comes the ire of Shiv Sena moral police who are lurking behind bushes to snuff out any attempts by couples to canoodle, writes Lalita Panicker.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2008 21:55 IST
Lalita Panicker

Have you been seeing red lately? Well, what else would you see with Valentine’s Day upon us floating on a crimson tide? In great Indian assimilation mode, we have taken to this day of romance in the unique manner in which we have taken to all sorts of days like Halloween’s Day, Friendship Day, Groundhog’s Day and so on. And in direct proportion to our desire to revel in Valentine’s Day comes the ire of our friendly neighbourhood Shiv Sena moral police who are lurking behind bushes to snuff out any attempts by couples to canoodle.

Indeed, the valiant Sena vows each year to smash shops selling Valentine’s Day cards and gifts. But will all this stop us from plunging into Valentine’s Day festivities with gusto? Not on your love life. But while we will defend to our death the right to celebrate love and take on the Sena on the beaches in trenches and in shopping malls, many of us seem to have forgotten exactly what the day is all about.

So you can imagine how disconcerting it is to receive tender Valentine’s Day messages from one’s female friends and male friends, please note those one is not romantically attached to.

While reading a few such messages, I happen to mention to the spouse how peculiar it sounded to me. Fearing that I was fishing for gifts, and seeing a heart-shaped hole in his bank balance, he denounced the whole thing as a clever marketing gimmick of which he would have no part.

While the messages come thick and fast from odd quarters, I could not help but think of the origins of Valentine’s Day. Though there are differing versions, St. Valentine as he later become known, was put to death by the Romans in 269 AD for refusing to give up Christianity. Before he pegged off, he apparently wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter with whom he had become friendly and signed it ‘from your Valentine.’ Now here we really take all this to heart. So for those who do not wish to stop at roses and candlelight, a spa experience may be in order. Or, a meal at an upmarket restaurant. Very much like the shakahari burger at McDonald’s, we have added our own bells and whistles to this day.

Be sure, that come Valentine’s Day next year, we will have added further embellishments to it. Just as we celebrate Halloween’s Day, an occasion where once the dead were thought to come back to earth. So the message is clear, the Sena has little chance to cast a dampener on our spirits when even the living dead cannot pull it off. But let us remember that Valentine’s Day messages are not for your buddies, whether male or female. So let a thousand romances blossom, and steer clear of the enthusiastic Shiv Sena spoiler.