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February: Seasoned with love

The month of February commemorates love in the form of Valentine's Day, writes Varupi Jain.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 17:47 IST
Varupi Jain
Varupi Jain

February culminates the peak season of marriages in India just as much as it commemorates love in the form of Valentine's Day.

As for the end of Hindu marriage season, oh what a breather!

For a while -- no more invites and mithai to give and receive. No more marriage

organisers offering to match the colour of the flower decoration with that of the chuda of the bride. No more aunties in tacky chiffons and uncles in bursting three-piece suits.

No more truckloads of jujubes and figs travelling from the bride's to the groom's residence -- trying to prove what, please whom, is there a point to be made?

No more tamasha for a little while.

As for marriages in Germany -- when they do happen, that is -- they're refreshingly simple. And recently, they have shown some interesting trends.

According to OECD, 46 per cent of marriages in Germany ended in divorce in 1998. In 1995, an average of 5.3 persons married in every 1,000 -- a slightly higher rate than in Italy and France.

However, within Germany there are stark regional variations. In the West for instance, in the state of Bavaria, 61 people in a 1000 entered matrimony in 2004 while this figure for the Eastern state of Thuringia was 10.

In the summer of 2001, the federal government of Germany legalised same-sex 'registered life partnerships,' which grant homosexual unions the surname-sharing, inheritance and health insurance rights associated with marriage, but not the tax advantages or the right to adopt children.

Germany also updated its definition of what constitutes a family for policy purposes in light of the fact that contemporary couples are reluctant to marry and defer having children; 'A family is where children are' -- the Red-Green coalition government had declared.

In 1992, the German Constitutional Court designated that cohabiting partners may be considered to be in a 'marriage-like relationship' if they have "a community (Gemeinschaft) of a man and a woman which is intended to last and to be mutually exclusive".

The increase in cohabitation and the entitlements of cohabitants brought with it some stretching of the legal concept of marriage, but finally traditional marriage is privileged above other partnerships and living forms. Joint filing of taxes is reserved for married couples.

Shift the frame to apna bharat: Legality? Joint taxes? Definition of marriage? I do not want to know the percentage of married couples possessing a simple legal proof of matrimony. Hey, where do you go to get it?

Anyway. What is marriage without love and February without Valentine's Day.

And what exactly is Valentine's Day? Just like the katha of Karvachauth, I guess a narrative of Valentine's Day is in place.

It is celebrated to commemorate the death or burial of a certain Priest named Valentine who lived in Rome around 270 AD.

The unpopular Emperor Claudius wanted to have a big army but not many men signed up -- being unwilling to leave their wives and families. Claudius decided that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army and convinced of this, he banned marriages.

In came Valentine -- the priest who empathised with young people and rebelled against the law. He married young couples secretly -- fearless of the emperor's soldiers trying to hunt him down. Finally, he was caught and thrown in jail -- sentenced to death.

While in jail, he fell in love with the jailor's daughter. The day he was to die, he left a little note for his beloved saying "Love from your Valentine" -- an expression which has lingered on.

With a pinch of salt

I heard this recently and found it quite clever: Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy regains Girl -- that is popular fiction; Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, why Boy lost Girl -- that is Art.

Happy Valentine's Day!

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 02:07 IST