Many are in the hangover of the valentine celebration. I never have written a post on valentine love. May be because I did not think seriously about love, as an outside expression, but as something inside, making you feel pleasant and out of this world.
My thinking have got a lot to do with my culture. I heard first about Valentine day in South Africa as a lover’s day, being in love day, showing love day, and present exchanging day in the name of love. The role of market forces behind the day is another reason I was standoffish about it; presents cannot buy anything noble like love, again my personal belief.
But our children were into that; they have no problem in accepting the valentine day.
Then, last year in November, something happened in my state Kerala in India. A group of face book activists organized a novel protest called ‘Kiss of Love’. They fixed a date and a public venue for it. It was not a ‘kiss fest’ as the organizers claimed, but like-minded people assembling and kissing to protest against ‘cultural fascism’ or ‘moral policing.’
Moral policing comprises of a whole lot of issues. Among others, it authorizes parents, adults, social, cultural and religious activists or anybody willing, to be moral watchdogs. To watch whether others in particular youngsters and females conduct lives violating cultural dictations on morality. For example, are they getting involved romantically, marrying outside caste, religion, and against family values, and if so punish them. Punishment can go up to public lynching, killing or anything the watchdogs deem appropriate. Perhaps comparable to what happened in Western Europe during the 17thcentury.
Public places like bus stand, park, and restaurants are under moral police’s constant surveillance. A park officer claimed he saved a brother and a sister from them by chasing them away from a park. The real police too are under their spell. Instead of protecting the public, its force chase even married couple away from public places.
Exposing the youngsters kissing in a restaurant’s parking place was a TV camera man’s ‘investigative journalism’. Following which a branch of moral police trounced the restaurant spurred the ‘kiss of love’ protest. The police and the government covertly or overtly supported the moral police in their idea and action.
The November protest of ‘Kiss of Love’ was symbolically successful, but not practically as the organizers had hoped for because of the police intervention to the support moral police that involves right wing religious groups, and due to majority's apathy.
Kerala is on top in literacy.
This is happening in a state which tops India in literacy, which shows love and literacy do not relate in direct proportionality. Its majority dispels love, equating to ‘sexual anarchy’ and violation of Indian culture. Sexual freedom is immoral, argues 'moral police', the state's rulers agree, and hence the law and order force treat lovers, their supporters and those who protest on their behalf as criminals.
Families are honored when virgin (?) daughters are married away, dishonored when daughters marry out of love, and mothers have taken upon themselves the cultural duty to strangle daughters in love to save family honor. Whether love is present in a marriage or not is nobody’s concern; it’s just a luxury, a luxury you can always avoid in life.
However, this is not only a Kerala phenomenon, but an all India phenomenon.
Many fear it’s the impact of westernization. The import of western markets and the idea of liberalization and globalization are catalyzing their fears. A perception is running deep among the cultural Indians that west is morally bankrupt and hence not a good moral model to follow.
And Valentine celebration is one such import and hence they oppose it.
The Hindu Mahasabha associated with the ruling Bharathiya Janatha Party had issued a prior Valentine warning this year that any valentine couple found in public would be forcefully married. And here is the reaction to the Mahasabha from the council members of the Jawharlal Nehru University, Delhi.
Interestingly all these are happening in a country that celebrated love as an essential part of its original culture which are sung and celebrated in the radha-krisha love tradition.
This is a post part of my post for Writer's Pro-blogger Challenge