ASIAN SCENE: Defying norms to celebrate Valentine’s

Saturday February 13 2016

It’s that day of the year that  the young and

It’s that day of the year that  the young and young at heart express their love for each other in the name of St Valentine. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ALLAUDIN QURESHI
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It’s that day of the year that  the young and young at heart express their love for each other in the name of St Valentine.

Today, relationships and marriages are proposed, gifts like cards, chocolates and flowers are exchanged.

Valentine’s Day is not just for the followers of one religious doctrine or for those who uphold the ancient Roman tradition relating to the celebration of love, but its message of love has spread the world over. It certainly is fashionable among to display their

affection irrespective of their faith, class or creed.

In India and the Islamic world traditionalists regard the celebration as a cultural contamination from the west. But liberals say that love lifts us up and the celebration is a unifying factor.

Be that as it may, I was fascinated to read about the tradition of love in some of major cultures of the world and take this liberty to share it with the readers.

For centuries in India, there was a tradition of adoring Kamadeva the lord of Love: this is exemplified in the erotic carvings in the Khajurao Caves and by the writing of Kamasutra — a treatise to love making. The tradition was lost around the Middle Ages.

In modern India especially among the urban youth Valentine’s Day is catching on despite protests by traditionalists.

In Iran the celebration of Valentine’s Day has been strongly criticised by religious heads who find it opposed to Islamic culture. Printing of cards and making goods related to exchanging gifts and promoting Valentine activities were banned.

Yet it is interesting to read that there is an ancient cultural festival in Iran that is known as Esfandegan. The festival allows people to express love towards wives and mothers. It is also considered a Celebration of Earth in the ancient Persian culture.

This festival I understand is being revived to replace the western love festival.

Love certainly is a many-splendid things. Be it in the name of St Valentine or any other Godman, Cupid’s arrows will continue to aim at affectionate hearts and Kamadeva will continue to bless those who love and are loved.  I wish all a happy Valentine’s Day and may we all be blessed during this auspicious festival of love.