Valentine's Day is celebrated worldwide with overwhelming joy and festivities by people of all ages. It's widely popular as the 'day of love' to young boys and girls in particular. Gift shops become crowded with customers everywhere even three or four days before 14th February. Cards, flowers, chocolates, souvenirs are sold on tremendous scales. Cell phone companies grab this day as a lucrative business venture offering special tariff on calls and messages. Newspapers print out special supplements with love stories and love memories by authors, poets and celebrities. Television channels show special plays, movies and programs to mark the day. People are also found expressing love-packed feelings through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin etc. They share colorful pictures, personal memories, reflections, romantic thoughts about love. A number of love songs are very popular in different languages with people everywhere. There are also various movies highlighting the theme of Valentine’s Day and the ups and downs in human life caused by love.
Being held on 14th February, Valentine’s Day come during spring. Spring is the most colorful season in all countries. This season becomes all the more glamorous when Valentine’s Day gets added to this vernal period with the message of love. The first day of spring is celebrated in Bangladesh spontaneously by people on 13th February. This is like the beginning of the festivities which enhance the amusement on 14th February, Valentine’s Day.
Nevertheless, at present celebrating Valentine’s Day is facing grim challenges. Islamic radical groups in different countries regard this day as an anti-Islamic program and therefore people in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and some more Muslim states are afraid of observing this day. Even in our country some religious preachers have declared that celebrating Valentine’s Day opposes Islamic norms as they view this as an alien culture. For this reason, a plight of fear prevails in some areas due to negative propagations about this day. According to those who denounce Valentine’s Day, mohabbat (love) is something to be practiced confidentially and it is to be done everyday in secrecy, not in public. These preachers call Valentine’s Day celebrations an act of “libido”.
However, does anyone care about asking when, how and wherefrom Valentine's Day actually originated? To be very frank, we have seen very few people expressing this curiosity. To glance back by several centuries, in 270 AD there was a priest named St. Valentino in Rome. During those years, wedding was prohibited for Roman soldiers. The Roman Emperor thought married soldiers would miss their wives and children when they leave for battlefields and thus would not concentrate on fighting. Most of the soldiers silently obeyed the rule but some troops were deeply in love. It was a painful thing for them to go to war leaving behind their beloveds. Some of them secretly approached St. Valentino with their lovers they loved and Valentino used to bless them into wedlock. All that happened in a very confidential way because that was a direct violation of the Emperor's orders. Nevertheless, it didn't remain hidden for long. When Roman Emperor Claudius came to know his soldiers were getting married with the help of a priest, he immediately ordered to get St. Valentino arrested. St. Valentino was brought to the royal court of Emperor Claudius. St. Valentino boldly confessed to the secret weddings he had carried out for the Roman soldiers as a result of which he was imprisoned by the Emperor. Finally, the Emperor ordered St. Valentino's execution. St. Valentino was beheaded during February 270 AD. Most of the historians believe his execution date was 14th February. Today Valentine's day is observed by lovers across the globe to commemorate the noble and magnificent sacrifice by St. Valentino, though most of the youths don't know the truth behind this occasion in the present world.
Coming back to the perspectives of Bangladesh, currently our country is going through a troublesome time with the rise of militancy though the government has been making the best of its efforts to eradicate this menace. Recently we have witnessed attacks on Holey Artisan Hotel and some more places. Several years ago bombs were blown up killing several people at Ramna Batomul, at programs by Udichi Cultural Activists and some other venues. In this way cultural phenomenon in the country is right now facing bleak circumstances. However, the power of love and peace will remove all the dark clouds and usher in the sunlight of a blissful tomorrow, let’s hope.
Love is all about dedication and faith. True love never offers any room for outrage or violence. Nowadays we see lovers going crazy and doing violent things when their love is not returned. This is absolutely unfortunate and it vividly contradicts with the true meaning of love. The real spirit of Valentine's Day conveys the message of tolerance, honesty and sacrifice. Let's hope our youngsters will come up to realize the historic significance of Valentine's Day. And another point is that let's not put all emphasis on just one date for love because love is universal, immortal and timeless. Let's celebrate love round the year, throughout the calendar. Let's remain faithful and dedicated to our beloveds each and everyday. At the same time we should extend our love for our parents, for our friends, neighbors and for our countrymen. Love has the power to conquer everything. So, let us forget about envy and malice by upholding the grace and sublimity of love.
Marufa Mazhar is a contributor of The Asian Age.