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Mothers are special: No need for hashtag love

Personally, I never think of letting my mother know how special she is on a specific day. But more than that, I never really thought if she would be delighted to receive a printer.

ht view Updated: May 11, 2015 16:09 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times

Personally, I never think of letting my mother know how special she is on a specific day. But more than that, I never really thought if she would be delighted to receive a printer.

The thought popped into my head when a leading computer firm asked people to tweet to it why their mothers would be happy to have the company’s printers. People tweeting catchy tweets would be in line to win a prize- obviously, a printer.

Several companies and e-retailers promoted their products using hashtags related to Mothers’ Day.

Apart from gifts, cards and flowers sent to mothers on the day, Sunday saw an overdose of commercial ventures trying to cash in on the occasion. It completely belied the fact that Mother’s Day was started to respect mourning women who lost their children to war.

Several Twitter hashtags that trended on Sunday painted a very commercial portrait, trying to send a message across that children need to send gifts to their mothers on this day to make them happy.

A video released by a prominent e-retailing firm with the hashtag #DearMa sent a really sweet message that perhaps more than any gifts, what your mother needs is a hug. But such are the tricks of advertising that while sending across that message, the range of products available on the firm’s website too was displayed.

Another video, released with the hashtag #MomKnowsBest, portrays the mother-daughter relationship through a puppet-show. And guess what, puppet mom feeds the daughter the firm’s product as they realise their love.

Of course, many will argue that the commercialisation of any occasion is inevitable. However, what’s unfortunate is that one of the greatest champions of Mother’s Day had given up everything to fight the commercialisation of the occasion.

A report by National Geographic magazine on the history of Mother’s Day illuminated the fact that the day’s genesis is steeped in political awareness and work for peace.

The story goes that the concept started in the 1850s when Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia in the US “held Mother's Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination”. The group cared for soldiers injured in the US Civil War of 1861-65.

Jarvis’ daughter – Anna Jarvis — started it all off with public Mother’s Day observances after her mother died.

“Largely through Jarvis's efforts, Mother's Day came to be observed in a growing number of cities and states until US President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday,” the article said.

However, the day soon went commercial and this disturbed Anna a lot. She took several steps to fight it, such as organising boycotts and threatening lawsuits. She even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother's Day to raise funds for charities.

Reportedly, Anna continued her protests against the commercialisation till the early 1940s, and in 1948, she died penniless in Philadelphia's Marshall Square Sanitarium at the age of 84.

Historian Katharine Antolini noted that Anna was a woman “who could have profited from Mother's Day if she wanted to".

Anna’s fight is worth pondering on considering the state of things today, when commercial ventures find an opportunity to cash in on all sorts of days such as Father's, Mother's or Valentine's Day.

At the end of the day, I don't think anyone needs to be reminded about what his or her mother might like. Neither do we need to express our love for our mothers with a specific hashtag on a particular day.

(The views expressed are personal. Writer tweets as @saha_abhi1990)

First Published: May 10, 2015 18:50 IST