In a country of 1.2 billion divided by language and cultural differences we have a peculiar attitude towards love. That love is bogus. Leaving the major metro cities aside, relationship between men and women is seen through the lens of traditional belief. Love has to come through the door of marriage, strictly. Break up because of parental pressure is a common phenomenon. So much so that it’s almost a culture. Our movies are full of love stories where parents or the society plays the villain since as many years ago as when you thought Sunny Deol was a romantic hero!
The culture reflects in horrific number of crimes against couples in recent times. A young Adivasi woman in West Bengal was reportedly raped by fifteen men from her community as a punishment to her ‘affair’ with a man from another community. It brought back memories of Khap panchayats doling out regressive decisions on couples in love. This being the only place on earth where consumption of chowmein and use of mobile phones are held responsible for “affairs” and love is met with dire consequences, it’s pretty dangerous to love in this land. There is no census of how many lovers have been killed and maimed mercilessly in the name of family honor. And how many were public-shamed. Often couples have to hide and run for the fear of being caught by their families or community representatives.
In spite, courtship scenario in India is changing. Even if you disregard the corporate propaganda on Valentine ’s Day coming at the heels of Kiss Day, Hug Day and other equally irrelevant commemoration days, common attitude towards love is getting personal. Most youngsters typically aged between 17-27 feel it’s no business of the community or parents to be nosy about who they chose to shower their affection on. A majority of this population is moving online to keep their courtship discreet. Studies show these are young women and men who have travelled, often overseas, know different cultures and are not in a hurry to tie the knots. They are not as much bothered as the older generations about maintaining regional sanctity or caste purity over the matters of heart. As much as transitioning society and cultures are responsible for this attitude, market forces are facilitating it. Krush – an online dating app – that connects its users through “friends of friends” launches nationwide today. Recently, the prestigious Presidency College in Calcutta announced a course on Love and Relationships that will be up for enrollment from this year. Of all the news that happened yesterday apart from the legendary pepper spray incident inside the Lok Sabha, probably the most fantastic piece of information came from Lucknow. The High Court of Lucknow issued a progressive statement answering a petition against free movement of couples. The statement said, “Various kinds of freedoms under Article 19 of the Constitution have been guaranteed to the citizens of the country which includes freedom of movement, of course subject to only maintain the security of the state, public order, decency and morality etc’‘. The petition in question took an offense towards couples spending time in public spaces and parks on Valentine’s Day. It demanded that security personnel be put in those areas to stop couples. Now one only hopes for the likes of Bajrang Dal that they realize how they cry wolf over a non-issue!
Censures on Valentine’s Day are nothing new and not India specific. And love is bigger than one particular day each year. Yet, since it commemorates love, traditionalists seem to sulk. What they really mean is that love is bogus and needs to be suppressed. As far as that is concerned India is fighting back, and with love.
By Sudhiti Naskar
Image Source: Valentine’s Day Ducks