By Gulrukh Tausif
I am sure this is going to be a highly unpopular blog especially among the younger people but the fun and beauty of writing blogs is that I can put across my ideas and opinions with complete freedom and others are equally free to agree or disagree with my perspective.
As soon as the month of February starts, there is a certain anticipation, a certain frenzy even a feverish excitement in the air. Valentine’s Day is upon us, love in the air and couples are ready to paint the town red. Sales of red balloons, expensive chocolates, themed clothes and imported flowers skyrocket…shops, malls, online stores, restaurants, delivery services and bakeries come up with new and enticing Valentine’s Day promotions and try to maximise their sales by offering red or heart-shaped items to melt the hearts of the loved ones and lighten the pockets of those hit by the Cupid’s arrow.
This year, like last year PEMRA has issued instructions to all TV channels against airing any programme promoting Valentine’s Day on February 14 in light of the Islamabad High Court’s order. Many have welcomed the ban while some have called it ‘undemocratic’ and ‘uncivilized.’
For those of us who are labeled old-fashioned, narrow minded and possessing outdated outlook on life, celebrating Valentine’s Day just doesn’t make sense. Those against it say that you don’t need a special day to express your love for your spouse, parents and friends and if someone does not fall into these categories, showing love for them is immoral and haraam anyway. Its fierce advocates say that it is a day to celebrate love, exchange gifts and have fun. Let the world know that you are in love and what’s the harm in that.
But I wonder, will we now learn how to adorn our relationships with events and days imported or borrowed from Western culture? The culture that is littered with infidelity, cheating partners, premarital affairs, extra marital affairs, same sex marriages, one night stands, blind dates, high divorce rate and open marriages. Does wearing red clothes, red high heels, eating heart shaped cakes, exchanging chocolates, teddy bears and flowers make our marriages and relationships stronger? Do we really need a Valentine’s Day to love and feel loved?
Let’s take a look at some statistics. In 2016, the total estimated amount spent by Americans on Valentine’s Day was a whopping 19.6 billion dollars. Yes, almost 20 BILLION DOLLARS!! This amount was spent on jewellery, flowers, an evening out, clothing, candies, gifts and greeting cards. But what is the state of their relationships:
In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.
The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.
The average age for couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.
Half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Of these children, close to half will also see the breakup of their parent’s second marriage as well.
Many couples get so angry with each other when their Valentine’s Day gifts and plans fall below expectations, that they break up afterwards. Wouldn’t you say that is a failed example that we are desperate to follow and incorporate in our culture? As these enlightened, modern countries continue to spend billions on Valentine’s Day, the span of their marriages is becoming shorter and shorter with some not even making it to their tenth anniversary. Are these the standards we are setting for ourselves? Are these the models we wish to emulate?
To me celebrating Valentine’s Day seems like an act of desperation on their part….Desperation to pretend even if just for one day that they are happy to be married, happy to be engaged, happy to be just together. As soon as the date changes, they are back to the harsh realities of their insecurities, fear of loneliness and their troubled relationships.
Even the American print and electronic media accepts the fact that Valentine’s Day and other such days are just about consumerism and a very lucrative time for retail businesses. Special surveys are conducted into the spending habits of people in each age group, gender and economic class. Are we such gullible fools that we will copy their spending habits without taking into consideration our own responsibilities and pockets?
Are we so devoid of our own culture and traditions that we go around with a begging bowl eager and desperate for new innovations? For wedding rituals, we look towards Bollywood movies and for celebrations and events we look towards the West. Why not be proud of our roots, culture and traditions instead of blindly following those who are themselves morally bankrupt or slaves to consumerism?
Story first published: 13th February 2018