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- 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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.