Love is in City Air! ‘Hug-a-Cow or Hug Your Love’, the Choice is Yours on Valentine’s Day-14 Feb
Mangaluru: Amid Valentine’s Week which began on February 7 with “Rose Day”, and a few days later came “Hug Day” on February 12. Sometimes when words fail to express our real feelings for someone, the language of physical touch does it all. A simple hug can take away the other’s fear and pain as well. It can help your loved ones know you are there for them, ready to solve any problem and be their safe space in difficult times. Therefore, Hug Day held much significance for lovers. It was the most genuine of all as it also turned out to be therapeutic for some! If you missed Hug your sweetie-Pie or your loved one on Hug Day, you have yet another chance- do it today (14 February) on VALENTINE’s DAY! Over the past decade, as India’s economy has opened up, Valentine’s Day – which originated as a Christian feast day – has become an increasingly popular occasion among young people, boosted by vigorous mass marketing campaigns featuring bouquets of flowers, teddy bears, heart-shaped gifts and flamboyant romantic gestures.
It’s once again that time of the year when controversies involving young lovers and activists of certain political saffron parties are nothing new, but the feeling of ill-will is usually at its peak on February 14, Valentine’s Day. St Valentine merely wanted to spread the message of love, but lately, this day has become one of the possible conflicts in India, as well as Mangaluru, where saffron outfits are calling for the boycott of Valentine’s Day celebrations. As lovers eagerly await to greet their Valentines on February 14, there’s some not-so-pleasing news for them. Roses, one of the essential gifts on Valentine’s Day, are a little higher than last year, and also prices of Teddy Bears and other Valentine’s Day tidbits are quite outrageous. But no matter what, lovers who want to celebrate this day, have gone ahead and bought the stuff, forgetting the price matter.
Taking objection to the celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14, Sri Ram Sena has stated that its activists will keep a hawk’s eye on parks, parlours and hotels.
If Sri Rama Sena Supremo Pramod Muthalik and other leaders of Bajrang Dal and other saffron outfits are dead against observing Valentine’s Day, that hasn’t stopped those who believe in V-Day and are all geared up to mark this Day, buying roses, gifts, chocolates, cards etc for their dear ones. Rightwing vigilante groups, who have often engaged in the moral policing of women, have attacked shops selling Valentine’s cards and decorations and targeted couples are seen holding hands. Much of the anti-Valentine’s rhetoric has been targeted at women, alleging that the holiday encourages female promiscuity and vulgar behaviour.
And for that matter, if you look at the flower shops and gift shops in Mangaluru, they are all making brisk business from flower arrangements, teddy bears, greeting cards, novelties, gift items, chocolates/cupcakes etc. As lovers listen to their hearts whisper and say those three little words with roses and gifts, V-Day spells megabucks for bizland. Big-time parties are excluded at luxury hotels, pubs and lounges which have been quite reluctant in hosting any V-Day events, with a little fear of the saffron groups creating trouble, after saffron outfit Baj Rang Dal stated that they do not encourage or tolerate Valentine’s Day celebrations or functions since it is a western culture and not Indian tradition.
Meanwhile, earlier the Indian government had urged people to set aside the “western” traditions of Valentine’s Day and instead celebrate the occasion by cuddling up with the country’s sacred cows. 14 February was declared Cow Hug Day, where people were encouraged to take the animals into an embrace. Cows are holy within Hinduism, the majority religion in India, and are considered sacred animals across the country. According to the government statement, hugging a cow “will bring emotional richness” and “will increase our individual and collective happiness”. The newly declared Cow Hug Day was intended to offset the “dazzle of western civilisation”, which the government said had come at the cost of the older traditions of India. However, while the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had earlier appealed to the public to celebrate February 14 as ‘Cow Hug Day’, the directive was later cancelled after the move became the subject of memes on social media.
The watering holes in the city have limited the day with only Valentine’s lunch and dinner. “Earlier, our establishment used to have Valentine’s Day-themed parties every year. However, we have not planned it this year, since the situation is not favourable. We may do it only from next year,” said the manager of a star hotel in the City. ”We wish we were in Mumbai, our hometown, where V-Day celebrations are simply fun and frolic. Here we have been traumatized by saffron groups and not many of our friends want to take a chance to get hurt while having good times. Telling us what to do and what not to do by the members of these outfits is just bul…..?. We are planning on having a good time, so also a bunch of our revellers at our apartment. Happy Valentine’s Day to all who believe in it” said medical students who were buying goodies for the V-Day party at a shop on Market Road.
The shops selling flowers and gift hampers added that though they had prepared Valentine’s Day special gift hampers, the response was not encouraging. The person in charge of Iris flower shop, Karangalpady in the City said, “We have Valentine’s Day red rose bouquets, chocolate boxes and soft toys. However, so far the response from the customers has been good compared to earlier due to the pandemic. But we are happy with the sale since we have not made more flower arrangements unlike previous years”.
Like the prices of ‘Kumbalakai’ goes up during ‘Ayudha Puja’- the prices of roses go up during V-Day. Also, since this year millions of roses have been exported to Western countries, there has been a shortage of roses here, and that’s the reason they have jacked up the prices. Flower arrangements range from Rs 1000 – Rs 10,000- and there was one flower arrangement ordered and ready to go, costing around Rs 10,000. I guess this man truly loves his wife or girlfriend to spend Rs 10K on a red roses flower arrangement. “Love birds do not mind paying around two times the usual price of flowers,” giggled another florist at a popular florist shop in town. However, he said many avoid purchasing flowers due to the anti-Valentine squads. The immoral police brigade on that day is keeping an eye on it, and youngsters hesitate to purchase flowers to avoid problems. Last year there had been protests by the saffron group in the city, claiming V-Day as Western culture”.
Listening to these florist comments, I thought to myself if these so-called V-Day haters are claiming V-Day as Western culture, how come they are wearing western outfits (Wrangler/Levis jeans pants & Tommy Hilfiger/CK polo or T-shirts) while burning those V-Day cards or organizing press meets. Going around the city I saw quite a few young and old people shopping for V-Day cards, roses and other V-Day novelties. But the shopping spree and craze for V-Day items have died down lately, with the present generation using SMSs, email and e-Cards to convey their V-Day greetings. Since there are restrictions from college management on students not to celebrate V-Day, also threats from saffron groups not to accept western cultures, and also many youngsters opting to send V-Day greetings through mobile text messages, emails and e-Cards have very much affected flower shop businesses. But many flower shops still want to continue and support various traditions that people are still used to, including V-Day, even though they don’t make big profits. “V-Day has been good, but could have been better, if not for all these anti-elements,” said a flower shop staff near Kankanady.
Suhan, an engineering student who had bought a mega-size V-Day card at Jerosa Company, has also planned to take his sweetheart for a “candle-light” dinner at a cosy and elegant restaurant. Charles and Susan, a newlywed couple, will be dining at Taj Vivanta Hotel, (earlier Gateway), where the hotel has set up a candle-light dinner facility for those special couples who want to make their V-Day memorable. Peter Nirmal-the General Manager at the Hotel said, “We have no special activity or V-Day delicacies has been planned, but we have an array of food items on our a la carte, where folks can dine by the poolside or in the newly designed Mint Restaurant. Make your V-Day a special one at Taj Vivanta Hotel”.
Meanwhile, the watering holes and fine-dining restaurants in the city have come up with some offers and special menus for V-Day. Upscale restaurants and Pubs/lounges have decided to concentrate on decor rather than a special menu or events on the day. However, a new Pan Asian restaurant has decided to introduce spot offers for booking tables with them. A Cozy eatery in Hotel Prestige premises has curated a two-week special Valentine’s menu. Damodar Shetty, partner of Prestige Hotels, Balmatta said that their unique food and beverage menu revolves around Valentine’s Day celebrations.”The special menu has an array of food and beverages that are unique and revolve around the theme-love,” he said, adding that there will be no special events apart from food and beverages.
To sum it all up, Valentine’s Day is traditionally a way to celebrate the romance in your life, but it’s also a good way to show friends how much you value them. There are as many ways to do this as there are friendships, and no way is right or wrong. With some friends, you might give a card to say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” while with others you might go all out to a big party. There are different ways to celebrate V-Day- pick one and celebrate. Happy Valentine’s Day!
I end this column with the modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it should be you.
Team Mangalorean wishes you all a Happy and Romantic VALENTINE’S DAY! Be Good Though?