Monday, February 9, 2009

Religion Versus Valentines Day.

Valentines day is the day when everybody takes the time to appreciate the loved ones in their lives. Couples cuddle up together celebrating earthly love and the electric passion between them. On this day, the city has so much to offer. Many weeks in advance, the shops are filled with chocolates, cards and may other ways to say I love you.

However, the story that caught my eye this valentines day was the unequivocal stand of all the religions against the celebration of valentines day.

Here is the Hindu story in Bangalore.

Bangalore: Bangalore, whose name turned into a verb with globalization and 'bangalored' came to denote the free movement of jobs, is suddenly caught up in a very ugly mess.

An outfit called the Sri Ram Sene first pulled the caveman act on young women in a pub in Mangalore – not far from this city – dragging them by the hair, slapping and pushing them around. And now approaching Valentine's Day, the same group is threatening to forcibly "marry off" couples caught celebrating romance in Bangalore.

Women drinking beer in pubs, wearing 'tight jeans' as well as public displays of affection are against Indian culture, says the Sene. Its leader Pramod Mutalik wants to put a stop to all Western cultural imports.

And now they have consistently condemned the Valentines day--

The SRS would act along these lines:

Guys and girls exhibiting public display of affection on Valentine’s Day would be forced to tie the knot immediately by Sene activists. For that, five teams would be formed. They will roam around Bangalore with video cameras and if they find young couples dating, they will force them to wed on the spot.

“The couples will be taken to a sub-registrar’s office to solemnise the marriage’’ said T S Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, Sene’s Bangalore city president.

Mutalik’s claim is that Valentine’s Day is a ‘Christian practice’.

He recently said in an interview that he and his ‘strict followers of Hindu culture’ were very much against women wearing noodle straps and tight jeans.

Firstly, I wonder whoever gave him the notion that Valentines day is a Christian practice!

The Christian Post reports --

Teens, churches and Christian organizations are sending an alternative message of abstinence and purity on the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day.Across the country, youths will make a public stand on their commitment to remain sexually pure until they are married on the Day of Purity, an annual event that coincides with Valentine’s Day. This is the fifth annual Day of Purity for youth.

“We live in a culture hostile to traditional values which has produced shocking statistics on the state of our youth,” said a statement on the Day of Purity Web site. “The Day of Purity is a day on which students can make a public demonstration of their commitment to remain sexually pure, in mind and actions.”

And the Muslim story, Saudi Arabia ofcourse, has banned all red items in gift shops and among florists yet again.

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine's Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday."As Muslims we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, " Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper......

Two years ago, a teenager was raped by seven men who found her alone with a man unrelated to her. The government sentenced the 19-year-old woman to 200 lashes and six months in prison for being in the company of a man who wasn't a family member or her husband. She was later pardoned. The seven rapists were sentenced to two to nine years in prison."

It would be unnecessary to point out the fact that it is not totally senseless for religions to take this stand given its views. Why? Here is an excerpt from a post by the editors of the The Undercurrent:

"Valentine’s Day is an inherently secular holiday. What it celebrates is not divine or platonic love, but earthly romance and passion.

The passion between lovers has always threatened the sway of religion. Religion requires humility, obedience, and self-denial—not exactly the traits exhibited by individuals enflamed by romantic devotion to their lovers. Perhaps this is why religion has always tended to regard sexual passion as a sin rather than a value to be cherished.In Saudi Arabia, Valentine’s Day is a threat because it focuses people on the passions of the here and now, rather than the empty promises of a religious after-life. A man dreaming of his lover’s lips is unlikely to be motivated to submit to Allah."

One of the other important lessons to learn from such bizarre events is that there should be a wall of Separation between religion and State. In the Hindu and the Christian societies religion merely takes the backseat and even when violence breaks out, the State protects the security of its citizens. On the contrary, when there is no such separation -- like in Saudi Arabia, the secular minorities are punished like the woman in the news item. Ayn Rand once said that the smallest minority on earth was the individual and applies appropriately here. Anytime an oppressive regime loots power in the name of God or in the name of the people, it is the individual who bear the brunt.

Update -- Outraged by an attack by right-wing Hindu militants on women emerging from a pub in Mangalore, activists in India have initiated a ‘Pink Chaddi’ (underwear) campaign in which they are sending pink panties to members of the Sri Ram Sena (Army of Lord Ram) on Valentines’ Day.


USpace said...

St. Valentine's Day came from a priest named Valentine who was imprisoned in 270 AD for marrying women with Roman soldiers, thereby supposedly 'weakening' them, so the Government was against the soldiers getting married. He fell in love with his jailer's daughter and signed his last letter to her "From Your Valentine".

It's good to see that love and the market are stronger than unreasonableness. Since many Islamic clerics condemn it as a non-Muslim Holiday, and say that Muslims may not celebrate a Christian (or Pagan) holiday; and since their 'Religious Police' enforce this, it's pretty safe to say that Sharia Law is against this. Not all Muslims of course, just the Law governing them in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

India's radical Hindus are rabidly against V-Day too.

How very enlightened and civilized.
here’s an absurd thought -
your Supreme God says
outlaw Valentine's Day

confiscate ALL red roses
keep men and women apart

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Valentine's Day is evil

it just reminds the people
about Christianity

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
destroy ALL Valentine's cards

remove items colored red
from all the store's shelves

absurd thought -
God of the Universe fears
a Christian minority

even though they may not build
or repair their churches
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Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Well, not quite all the the religions are mentioned in your post!

Valentine's day did have it's origin as a Christian Saint's Day, which, in this case honors the death of a martyr, thus the color red.

However, in the United States, it has become so completely secular a day that everyone feels good about celebrating it, if they have a sweetheart to romance on that day.

khartoum said...

Hi Hannah,

I am sorry I said all religions -- i meant all the religions I've come to touch with in India. The majority of people here are Hindus, Muslims and Christians.