Valentine’s Day is here. Take a look around you. You can’t miss it–not unless you decide to take a trip to the Mars. Marketers go to town trying to sell everything from heart shaped chocolates and flowers to cell phones and pricey romantic dinners for you and your Valentine. Facebook is awash with love messages, with selfies of cootchie-cooing couples and more. Self-proclaimed Agony Aunts and Love Gurus are all over on multiple channels, across multiple media, dispensing wisdom about love, romance, relationships. According to one estimate, online sales of products — from fashion accessories to toys, garments and more — is expected to touch Rs 22,000 crore this year.
So what’s the big deal about V-Day?
Strangely enough, twenty years ago, we had never even heard about this festival of love. Today, V-Day is in your face: it has grown from a Western tradition to one of the most popular celebrations among the youth in India. Is it the McDonaldization of festivals? Perhaps. For a country that has more than enough festivals to celebrate 365 days of the year, why is there such a song and dance about a “Western import” that celebrates the Day of an obscure third century Roman saint? Unlike all the Indian festivals that have a religious association, this is truly one event that is non-religious, has a fun angle to it and celebrates the ‘youth spirit’. While romantic love is the one that is most talked about — what with all the imagery of Cupids, heart balloons, I heart you signs and all manner of PDA on display — V-Day is a celebration of Love in all its avatars. Romantic affection, being just one of them.
It’s true that Indians were perhaps among the first people to immortalize the notion of Romantic Love through the erotic sculptures of the Khajuraho and we have our very own Deity of Love in Kamadeva. Kama Sutra is perhaps the first ever treatize written about all things erotic and yet we have chosen not to memorialize a day for it. Think about it, why don’t we Indians celebrate a festival of love, though we have a humungous number of auspicious days devoted to our 330-million-plus Gods? Enough already, right? What has captured the imagination of the young in India is that the festival bonds them to a truly global culture. And one which comes stripped off the religious/regional trappings.
The lack of religious baggage also gives it added significance, in that the rituals of celebration no longer need public/societal approval. It’s a DIY Festival, so to speak. While marketers have tried to promote the “candlelit dinners” and “gifting culture”, most couples can choose to interpret and celebrate the festival in their uniquely, personal ways. Be it an intimate cosy celebration or an in-your-face public announcement of the Bollywood variety of Love, this is by far, the only Customizable Festival in India.
At its heart, V-Day remains an intensely personal and intimate celebration. That’s the Real Deal.
Wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day! May you cherish your loved ones and be cherished!
How do you feel about V-Day? Do share your thoughts….