DU students call for end to Hindu College’s customary ‘virgin tree’ puja
The ritual is believed to bring ‘good luck’ with the students who participate in it ‘falling in love within the next six months and losing their virginity in the next one year’.Updated: Feb 11, 2019 16:36 IST
Students from several Delhi University (DU) colleges have raised objections over Hindu College’s customary ‘Virgin Tree Puja’, which is organised every year on February 14.
A group of students from the college have dubbed the practice as “misogynistic” and have demanded that practice to be abolished.
On Monday, students said they are going to organise a public discussion to find possibilities of making the event (which is held to celebrate Valentine’s Day) ‘gender inclusive.’
Every year on February 14, Valentine’s Day, students from Hindu College’s boys’ hostel flock around the Virgin Tree (V-shaped tree) on the college campus. They worship a Bollywood female actor as Damdami Mai (goddess), with her poster stuck to the tree. The students of the college also decorate the tree with condoms. The ritual is believed to bring ‘good luck’ with the students who participate in it ‘falling in love within the next six months and losing their virginity in the next one year’. According to the group of protesting students, who call themselves the Hindu College Progressive Front, the “V-tree Puja” is nothing but ‘objectification of women’.
“One of the first things you will find when you search Hindu College on the internet is its popularity for the annual V-tree Puja. Some students think that the puja is an important tradition and part of legacy of the college and hence must be continued. But, not all traditions are meant to be continued. If we allow an aggressive and unhealthy tradition on sexuality in a university, then we give acceptance to a culture that only allows the expression of a single idea of sexuality without caring about who is excluded,” said the group, in a statement.
The group, along with the college’s Women Development Cell, will on Monday hold a public discussion — legacy or objectification — to reach a consensus on the issue. “We will be holding a public meeting where students and teachers are invited to express their views on the V-tree Puja,” said Yogita, a member of the progressive front.
Students from Delhi School of Economics and St Stephen’s College have also extended support to the protesters. “At a time when women across universities are fighting to rightfully occupy spaces in the university and to change the nature of these dominantly masculine spaces, we condemn the practise of Virgin Tree Puja. We implore the Boys Hostel Union and the Students Union put a stop to it immediately,” said members of gender study cell of Stephen’s College in a statement. Teli Venkatesh, president of college’s boys’ hostel, however, said that there was nothing “misogynist” about the practice. “It’s a part of the college’s legacy. However, we are meeting for a discussion and will try to take women students on board. We can come up with ideas to make it an inclusive practice,” he said.