Valentine’s Day is around the corner and most children may be making or handing out valentines to their friends at school, couples may be exchanging gifts usually chocolates and flowers….so while people get ready for this holiday, I find it interesting to look at this celebration with an Indian lens, but first its helpful to get the story behind it…
It is fascinating to look at the legends behind St. Valentine’s Day. One legend is about a man named Valentine (or Valentinius), who was a Christian priest in third century Rome. At that time, Claudius, the emperor of Rome, made it illegal for his soldiers to marry since he thought that it would take them away from defending Rome. Valentinius though respected love and marriage greatly and began to marry the soldiers and their girlfriends in secret wedding ceremonies. For this, and for practicing his religion, he was imprisoned and executed on February 14th. Since then, people honor the memory of Valentinius, by exchanging messages of love and friendship. Another legend, refers to an early Christian named Valentine, in Roman times, who made friends with children and when he was put in prison for his religion, the kids tossed him loving notes through the bars of his cell window.
While educating our children about the original legends behind this celebration, we can also teach our children about love in ancient Indian mythology/literature. Needless to say, the stories have to be age-appropriate. We can tell them stories about Kamadeva the Hindu God of Love/Desire (performing a similar function to Cupid and often getting into trouble!) Stories from the scriptures as the story of Savitri and Satyavan, a story about the love between a husband and a wife (this beloved tale is commemorated by traditional married women in South India and other parts of India, on Vat poornima )or plays by Kalidasa about Malavika, Urvashi and Shakuntala are wonderful tales of love that also allow children to learn about ancient Indian culture and literature. Amar Chitra Katha has many titles of such nature and would make lovely, off-beat gifts, for Valentine’s Day!
Of course, giving and receiving cards on Valentine’s Day is very exciting to people of all ages. Even the littlest children can make cards with supervision, and putting together a thumbprint heart card can be a fun activity for all involved. Kids can also trace their hands on construction paper, cut it out, decorate it and write messages on it. For the tween years, an afternoon party with Valentine’s Day crafts and some Valentine’s Day baking can be fun. The teen crowd (and their parents) may enjoy a movie night with Bollywood/Hollywood romantic movies. They can even write funny poems like this one called Antonio by American poet, Laura Elizabeth Richards.
So, no matter what you decide to do, make time to celebrate and cherish your loved ones! Wear red, eat chocolate, exchange valentines and enjoy your kids.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Signing off until next time!
Brunda Moka Dias