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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Indra Vizha a.k.a. St. Valentine's Day!

Is there really such a thing called 'love'? Or is it just another human construct? Well, let's just put aside these intellectual arguments about the existence of 'love' and just celebrate it shall we? :)

The 14th of February of every year is celebrated as St. Valentine's Day, as he was the sole proponent of 'love' and 'marriage' in an empire, which banned marital relations and unions of couples. He conducted marriages of many couples underground without the knowledge of the ruling empire, who then later sentenced him to death on the 14th of February! After the fall of the empire, all was forgotten except the deeds of Saint Valentine, whose death day was forever commemorated as St. Valentine's Day! 

Despite the religious background of the Saint, we can find similar festivals celebrating the unions of lovers in other cultures too, especially in Hinduism! 

Too often in India amongst the so-called saintly "gurus", accusations are thrown at "St. Valentine's Day" as being the propellent for erosion of Indian tradition. But very few people are aware of the fact that in our same Indian tradition, there were many festivals that celebrated love.

One such festival was called "Indra Vizha", also referred to as Vasantha Vizha (i.e. Spring Festival). It was a time of the year where many youngsters, both men and women, held competitions, danced, sang, and celebrated the festival by expressing their love and feelings to their lovers! Many young men and women courted each other during this festival, which was celebrated for 28 days!!

There are references to such festivals during the Chola period and even way back! One can find such references in Tamil literature treatises, maybe even in the Puranas. 

The Indian culture has never been against 'love' and 'marriage'. In fact, it has celebrated the sacred union of two souls! Otherwise, why would we have such elaborate marriage ceremonies that last for days?! Why would we have such festivals like the Indra Vizha?!

This year, I am going to make it a point not to wish anyone Happy Valentine's Day... Because it is not a day we are celebrating Valentine the Saint. But it is the day we celebrate 'love' that is the main ingredient for the survival of the species called Homo Sapiens!

How so, you ask? Amongst all the species in this world, humans and certain species of birds are the only ones who are capable of 'loving' each other. The feeling of attachment, care for the other and togetherness is what makes the "husband" and the "wife" of the species to stick together till they raise their offspring to maturity! So this feeling, which we have chosen to call 'love', is fundamental to the continued survival of our species. Without love, there will be no mankind. 

In Hinduism, the importance and joy of 'love' is illustrated in our ancient scriptures called 'Puranas'. Be it the way Sati courted Lord Shiva, or the way Lord Shiva courted the re-born Sati as Parvati, or the way Krishna eloped with Rukmini...

Our Gods did show us the feats they performed to win the hearts and hands their loved ones! So to summarise, 'love' is actually rampant in our culture! :) So it's time to celebrate 'love' and express your feelings to your loved ones!! :) 

So why did I decide not to wish anyone "Happy Valentine"? Well, I want it to be a special day that will only be celebrated with my soulmate. If I go around wishing it to everyone whom I care and love as a dear friend, then it wouldn't be a special day anymore. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't accept wishes of Valentine's Day from my friends. :) I only want to emphasize that if I were to wish Happy Valentine's Day to someone, then that person would definitely have a special place in my heart. 

P.S.: So let's just be clear here. In this post, I wasn't writing about the 'love' you have for your mum, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, friend, best friend, BFF, boy who is a friend, or a girl who is a friend!!  


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