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Why do Valentine’s Day attacks happen? Why does the sight of two lovers bring so much wrath? This post attempts to answer.
Valentine’s Day had its own share of criticism in India. Let us face it; it is promoted by big multinationals which use it to sell their products. But, that happens in the case of every festival. After all, gifting a big pack of chocolates on Rakhi is now promoted by this corporate giant. So, each festival has its commercial benefits.
But then, with so many attacks that happen on lovers each year this day, have you ever wondered why we are so averse to Valentine’s Day?
I saw this poster on facebook that calls for celebrating Valentine’s Day as Parent’s Worship Day. We already have a day dedicated to mothers and father. The question is not about celebrating another day as parents’ day; it is about the innate fear of Valentine’s Day.
Let’s consider for a moment, what will happen, if we celebrate Valentine’s Day where a man and woman have the right to choose each other. Basically, we hate everything that does not fall into the notions that patriarchy has held on to, that have made it thrive.
Patriarchy or the feudal system has always thrived on commanding every aspect of life. Let us begin with the caste system. It was first started as a division of work, until it was made a part of the oppressive feudal culture where one section ruled or practically owned the other. The caste system was supposed to based on the work one did. In reality, it made some people vastly superior to others who were considered untouchable.
Over time, marriages became a part of the same feudal system, where a man owned a woman and gave her to another. The very concept of Kanyadan , which is the giving away of a girl to another man is itself very feudal, because it treats women as property, that needs to be taken care of and owed by a man.
The same feudal system treats a widow, very badly, – once a woman is a widow she is named unlucky or in many cases thrown out of the house; she loses the status of a human being after the demise of her husband or the patron who owned her. This also means, taking away her property rights.
In fact Sati was carried on precisely because it gave other male member of the family the right to take over her property. No one in her right mind would jump into a pyre. In most cases women were forced or sedated with drugs so that they could be placed on the pyre and the property taken over by someone else. Do you really think someone who has young kids would jump into the pyre? Even with outmost grief, she would hold herself back, for her young ones at the least. Once Sati was banned, have we not seen widows coping with their lives well?
Now, coming back to Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day gives a man and woman the right to choose a partner irrespective of caste, religion and family background, which completely blows away the pillars on which Patriarchy stands. Most importantly, it gives a woman a chance to choose for herself and in many cases the autonomy over her body. Patriarchy has thrived on controlling women’s sexuality and choices. So, each time that control is questioned, it gets petrified.
Patriarchy has thrived on controlling women’s sexuality and choices. So, each time that control is questioned, it gets petrified.
Today, many of us go out to work and no more own land or need an army of workers under us, but the mentality remains. It works very well for a few to have the same set of behaviours. Remember, nothing thrives without empowering a few. Patriarchy has always empowered a few with unquestioned power and wealth. So, even something as simple as Valentine’s Day brings forward their wrath.
There have been attacks on lovers during Valentine’s Day in the past. You only attack what you fear. Why do some people fear some lovers meeting and celebrating a day? Why be so angry when a few roses and kisses are exchanged? Why physically attack when just two harmless lovers walk hand in hand in a park?
If we look deep down, we will realize that somewhere, it deals a blow to the age old thriving institution of Patriarchy. So, when two consenting adults choose to do whatever is private to them, it takes away the power of a few who others need control. Taking away control always brings with it a lot of violence. So, we see that there are people who would urge you to celebrate it as Parents Day and a few who will call it against our cultural norms.
Can we just understand that society is always in a state of evolution, nothing is static? If Lord Krishna can dance around 16000 Gopis, without questioning their caste, community and morals, I am not sure how if I just hang around with a date on Valentine’s Day, it brings shame to India. Is our culture so fragile that one Valentine’s Day will ruin it? It won’t. It never can. It is the deep insecurity of losing what brought one power that angers so many. If a woman is given the right to choose a partner and the vice versa, there are people with a lot at stake, who lose a lot.
Next time, when you celebrate Valentine’s Day and someone is angry, just ask them what is at stake, you will know the answer. As, they say, “The answer is blowing in the wind.”
Cover image via Facebook
Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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