Love is in the air, it is said about this period as we approach February 14 each year. For a full week, red roses, heart-shaped gifts and chocolates are being sold on every street and mall. We are expected to express our special romantic love to a person of ‘opposite’ sex.
It is said that this day is meant to honour certain St Valentine who was killed around this date in 3rd century Rome. But, Saint Valentine is patron-saint of epilepsy and bee-keepers. The former would suggest that St Valentine is looking after the well-being and care of those who are suffering. The latter suggests support for all things, actions and people ‘sweet as honey’?
It is also said that there are many St Valentines whose days fall throughout the year; then, Valentine’s Day could well be celebrated any time of the year, and around the year. More recently, Graham Bell received his patent for telephone on this day in 1876. That suggests that clear lines of communication should characterise our actions on this day?
When I first came across celebration of Valentine’s Day forty years ago in USA, it seemed to suggest that wishing others, especially a person of opposite sex, on this day was a way to say thank you to someone who had been a good friend. Romantic love was only a small part of wishing on this day then.
In that sense, it may imply that Valentine’s Day is about saying thank you to a friend. Friendships may cut across genders and sex, and may include people of different age groups. Relations between adult men and women need not be singularly codified in ‘romantic love’ alone. In our context, it is difficult to have easy-going relationships between a young man and woman without finding a label of romance. When a man and a woman are intimate friends, laugh and cry with each other and appear to be enjoying each other’s company, it is generally assumed in this society that they are romantically linked, they are ‘lovers’.
Love has been so narrowly understood in today’s world as to imply an attribute of romantic relationship between a man and a woman. Universal nature of love as a characteristic of many relationships that a person can simultaneously have is generally described as ‘unnatural’. Why can’t we love many people at the same time? Why is love not a part of our expression for all those we care about—irrespective of sex, gender, age?
So, this Valentine’s Day, let us resolve to express love to all those we care about in our lives. That is our way of saying thank you. Let us resolve to express warmth, care, affection and love in all our relationships. And, let us especially resolve to learn to be comfortable and at ease in relationships between boys and girls, men and women. And, say thank you to all those warm, caring, loving and affectionate people.
Since there have been so many Valentines in the past throughout the year, why can we not make expression of love, affection, warmth and comraderie a part of our everyday life, throughout the year? We may celebrate it on February 14, but we make it a habit in everyday life?
That is what #feminismineverydaylife is all about.
Be my Valentine!
February 14, 2017
Dr. Rajesh Tandon is one of the Founder Directors of MFF (Martha Farrell Foundation), the Founder President of PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia), and Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, living in Delhi, India. He completed his graduation from IIT, Kanpur and post-graduation from IIM, Kolkata, and received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, United States. He is an internationally acclaimed leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. Dr. Tandon specialises in social and organisational change and has contributed to the enhancement of perspectives and capacities of many voluntary activists and organizations. He has served on numerous government task forces and committees, and is the founder of the Board of Directors of World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS). He has written a number of articles, books and manuals on Participatory Research and related topics.