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Section 377 : Does It Really Has Anything To Do With Indian Culture?

The modern Indian approach towards homosexuality is hardly the one derived from Indian culture

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Gay pride Flag
Rainbow Flag represents LGBT community, VOA
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By Ruchika Verma

  • Section 377 of IPC is one of the most controversial matters in India
  • The law criminalises the unnatural acts of sexual activities
  • Homosexuality is illegal under the IPC Section 377

Section 377, which criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature,” which includes homosexual relationships as well, has been a matter of debate for a long time now. In a rather progressive nation like India, this section represents nothing but backwardness.

Section 377 is one of the reasons why LGBTQ community gets harassed.
Section 377 is one of the reasons why LGBTQ community gets harassed.

The modern Indian approach towards homosexuality is hardly the one derived from Indian culture, rather it is a product of British colonialization, which brought the section into being during their rule over India.

LGBTQ rights are used as nothing but a propaganda by political parties to gain votes. The media coverage is also about nothing else, but either community members getting harassed or a politician spewing out absurdities about the LGBTQ community. The reasons which the rigid nationalists of our country give in support of Section 377 are even more absurd. they try to create a connection where there is neither scope nor need.

Also Read: Section 377 criminalising ‘unnatural sex’ may be scrapped, says Sadananda Gowda

Indian Culture and Section 377 – Is there really a connection? 

The truth is, there isn’t. Those who go against homosexuality in the name of Indian culture are surely not properly aware of our ancient texts. Indian culture, especially Hinduism has always been more fluid in its ideology than the British who ruled India for more than a century.

Indian culture has always recognised sexuality properly. Our scriptures are a great example of that. Be it the famous Kamasutra or the Vedas, sexuality was never a taboo until Mughals and Britishers came into the picture.

Indian culture nowhere says that homosexuality is wrong or unethical.
Indian culture nowhere says that homosexuality is wrong or unethical.

Nowhere in Indian culture, there is a scripture which validates the ill-treatment of LGBTQ community. What we don’t release is the fact that the weight of colonialism still hangs heavily over our heads, suspended in mid-air, dividing people who believe in totally two different ideologies.

Our ancestors recognised the need for changes in their law, sadly, our modern generation can not. Section 377 of the Indian penal code dates back to 1861, and it is now high time that a change is implemented.

LGBT community needs to be accepted just as much as any other community. Pixabay
LGBT community needs to be accepted just as much as any other community. Pixabay

It is no hidden fact that Indian culture was far more modern in its approach than the Roman or British one. However, that’s the case of the past. With time progressing, India has only regressed in the matters relating to sexuality and women.

Be it society’s way of controlling a certain section of society, or politicians who never step back from banking upon such matters, India needs to recognise that the Section 377 is totally wrong in its approach of homosexual people.

Section 377 and the problems with it

Also Read: How did Rainbow Flag attain the Prestige of representing the LGBT Community? 

Section 377 goes against the ‘unnatural’ sexual activities, which involves unnatural sexual acts performed on humans and animals. the key term in the section is “against the order of nature.”

Homosexuality, unfortunately, is against the nature in India. It is not treated as an identity or the orientation of a person, rather many radicals claim it to be an ‘illness.’ What’s more interesting, is the fact that there is no norm which defines these ‘unnatural acts.’

The IPC Section 377 is the reason why homosexuality in India is a taboo today. Despite, several protests and peaceful rallies, India’s pride just keeps on going down. Homosexuals live in a constant fear which is a violation of humanity in itself.

pride flag
The rainbow pride flag of the LGBT community. Wikimedia Commons

The law needs to be constantly modified in order to be effective. With the change in time, a modification is law is also needed. However, Indian Supreme Court seems to be ignoring the fact. It is going along with the old beliefs which are better cast away.

The IPC Section 377 needs not to get removed, however, an amendment is definitely needed. Homosexuality is not a crime, it is just human nature which needs to accept. To be or not be is not a choice, it is an orientation. And orientation doesn’t see legal or illegal.

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Is The observance of Valentine’s day a Commination For The Indian Culture?

India has always been at the centre for world cultures, religions and traditions but we now see a visible decline in the indigenous culture due to this marketing campaign of western festivals and culture

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Exchanging gifts on Valentine's day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Wikimedia Commons
Exchanging gifts on Valentine's day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Wikimedia Commons
  • Valentine’s Day is said to be a day for expressing affection for your loved ones
  • Many people can be seen looking out for unique Valentine Day ideas to please their partner
  • Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II

One can spot excited lovebirds everywhere as the week of love starts. Shops like Hallmarks and Archie’s are brooding with love tokens. The essence of ‘love is in the air’ can be felt very easily. The Valentine’s Day is said to be a day for expressing affection for your loved ones. The day falls each year on 14th February and holds a great significance for the people worldwide. Things like cupid hearts, roses, chocolates, and red heart-shaped balloons can be seen in every florist and gift shop. Many people can be seen looking out for unique Valentine Day ideas to please their partner.

In India, along with all these romantic accessories and lovebirds, an uproar by political parties is also created every year. The party people go to different restaurants and places where the day is supposed to celebrate to wipe out Valentine’s Day decorations. These political parties also demand that this day this day not be celebrated, as it is not a part of Indian culture. Like every year, this time also the RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and Hindu Mahasabha with the plan to ruin all that the lovebirds might have planned ahead. The couples which are been held on by such ‘social moral-police’ forcibly marrying them by accusing of expressing love in public or even on social networking sites. To counter the aggression of such groups, Chhattisgarh made it official that 14th February will now be celebrated as ‘parents worship day.’ Such is the plight of democracy in our country.

 

Also Read: 20 best valentine’s day gift ideas for him & her

Valentine’s Day History

Majority of people in India do not even know about Valentine’s Day origin and what exactly does it stand for. If we see historically then Valentine’s Day has really got nothing to do with individual love. It is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Therefore, 14th February is also known as the St. Valentine’s Day. There are many other stories associated with it but in the end, the day is associated with the tradition of courtly love which was an act of chivalry of Knights for their ladies.

Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Wikimedia Commons
Valentine Day is marked to honour the martyrdom or honouring of Saint Valentine who was beheaded by Emperor Claudius-II. Wikimedia Commons

Valentine’s Day Meaning

The Valentine day is well accompanied by Chocolate day, Hug day, Rose day, Slap day, Kick day, Breakup day etc. etc. So, now the lovers celebrate a Valentine week. If we see in the Indian context then it holds no sense of celebrating a day that too when its history has nothing to do with our society. It is understood if Indians who are Christians are celebrating it as it can be considered their festival.

The question arises, what is so wrong with celebrating Valentine’s day or expressing love in public?

If we look at the general celebration of any festival in India then, almost all the Indian festivals are celebrated in a very traditional manner and none is complete if done without worshipping God. Such festivals involve family but not just couples. Like Diwali is celebrated in a very convenient way in India. We pay obeisance to God, greet our friends and families, light diyas and burst cracker. But some people on the other hand drink and gamble on this auspicious day. Is it allowed by Indian culture?

India has always been at the centre for world cultures, religions and traditions but we now see a visible decline in the indigenous culture due to this marketing campaign of western festivals and culture. Such practices make people think it is trendy to celebrate them. One has to celebrate Valentine Day because the event has been marketed in such a way that it looks special and cool for the young generation.

Also Read: Modern methods, ‘print your love’: Valentines day

Complications Involved

Basically, what matter’s is the way in which festivals are celebrated rather than their name and origin? The day in India is more likely driven by fashion and less by emotions.

Like many other cultures and festivals, Indian culture might absorb Valentine’s Day. Fundamentally, celebrating love is not harmful in itself but forgetting what love stands for and trampling the local culture and traditions as it does not resonate with the definition of globalization is certainly harmful.

The Valentine day is marked in such a way that youngsters are made to believe that they have to shower their partner with expensive gifts to keep the relationship going even when they are just students and the gift would come from their pocket money savings.

Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of "patriarchy and oppression" by the western world. Wikimedia Commons
Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of “patriarchy and oppression” by the western world. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, why should there be just one special day to express your love for your loved one? This should be expressed on daily basis for relationships to go with bliss. Exchanging gifts on Valentine’s day has created this materialistic view of love on this day. Some people have started expecting benefits from this extraordinary show of love on a single day. It is extremely absurd when people start comparing how their previous date was so much better with the gifts they have received. The very idea of judging the love and affection on a materialistic platform has become a menace to the society.

The problem in India is that the society is undergoing a transformation and there are many bad elements in the society that take full advantage of such days. For some, love means only physical pleasure and nothing more than this. If this notion holds true then it is true that not only Valentine but any such festival is against Indian culture. Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones.

Also Read: Origins of Valentine’s Day: rooted in violence and blood

On the other hand, Indian festivals like Karwachauth and Rakshabandhan are being considered as a part of “patriarchy and oppression” by the western world which has been a part and parcel of India for generations.

If someone celebrates Valentine day to realize that they are a global citizen then the aura of subconsciousness is really gone wrong. In some cases, the conversion to other religion is also seen at the behest of such festivals.

Conclusion

Emotions like love have a very deep meaning in India and most Indians try for a lasting relation who will lead to marriage and a stable life. Thus celebrating a day where you express your love for your better half is never a big deal. There are the different set of arguments for either liking or disliking this day but that doesn’t mean it gives the right to extremists to forcibly marry off couples seen expressing love in public or social networking sites. However, we should be wary of unwanted practices just for the sake of attention and let things that ruin our culture happen. But at the same time, we should also not start moral policing at everything around.

Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones. Wikimedia Commons
Nothing seems wrong with celebrating Valentine ’s Day if the day is celebrated with good and spirit of the festival and we spend time with our loved ones. Wikimedia Commons

There are many other foreign festivals that are now celebrated in India such as New year, Halloween, St. Patrick’s day, Mother’s days, Father’s day and so on though with less vigour. It is a common conception that foreign festivals attract more people as the way of celebrating these is just like a party and it is very attractive.

Valentine Day has become an occasion of global celebrations due to various reasons. Even the cultures and communities like India that have otherwise no links to Valentine Day have also adopted it. India has a glorious tradition, a leader in spirituality and diverse culture. Now a day, celebrating Valentine Day is considered a marker of modernity. It’s up to an individual how he/she takes the spirit of love and adhere to the very idea of compassion.