Hallmark is thankful. So are flower vendors, jewellers, and hole-in-the-wall chocolate shops effusing their rich, suffocating scent. Ever since the early nineteenth century, people around the world have been bombarded with special “sales” printed on pink, white, and red flyers. I only became aware of the concept of Valentine’s Day once I moved to the United States. I can’t ever remember special TV advertisements or extravagant promotions in India around this fourteenth day of February, a day so synonymous with couples, love, and shiny red gift-wrap.
It’s understandable that political parties in India are fighting to keep Valentine’s day from being recognized nationwide, because it’s simply “not done” in mainstream Indian culture. Dating is still a taboo act and a taboo word. It seems to imply so much more than love…it insinuates an ephemeral, capricious lifestyle, one associated primarily with western cultures. The resistance to this act reflects the conflicting ideals of the parties involved. Staunch, conservative political parties insist that Indian values must be preserved, and Indian culture should not be manipulated to accommodate western ideas…ideas that are tantamount to anything negative. However, observance of Valentine’s day it has become more widespread in recent years, and businesses are taking advantage of it. The Indian post office has produced thousands of appropriately themed stamps, and stores are bursting with bears, hearts, and cards. Their marketing strategies have morphed to cater to couples, especially the younger generation. It may be a while before Indian government observes Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t seem to matter: everyone else has it covered.