This year Valentines Day came and went with what seemed to be less than the usual amount of demonstrations. There was a line of students shouting about how Earth is their Valentine. When later confronted their eco-friendliness turned out to be a direct result of a threat of low grades from the college working.
And the only anti-Valentines’ Day action I witnessed was a single man with an orange flag who thought it was his mission to disrupt a flower-seller’s display. All that this seemed to do was help a lot of strangers to unite with their efforts to help the poor man pick up his flowers.
Later that day I got an email that explained the lack of enthusiasm from the conservatives.
Valentines’ Day is actually an Indian tradition. Here’s the story straight from the email:
One day, a brave *Patalani *(Patel lady - her name is unfortunately lost in oblivion), had enough of *"Atyachar"(Torture)* perpetrated on her, by her husband, and then she finally chose to rebel by beating up her husband with a *Velan*... the same Velan with which she made chapattis for him everyday. This was a momentous occasion for all the Gujarati women and a revolt soonspread, like a wild fire, with several housewives beating up their husbands with Velan.
The men quickly learnt their lesson. However, there was no putting down the burgeoning feminist spirit of the times, and the beatings continued incessantly. As the men improved, the frequency of the beating was reduced to once a month -usually towards the middle of the month, so that they would remain "disciplined". Further improvement reduced the need to more of an annual ritual, to ensure that the *Patlanis* can demonstrate the "Credible Threat"; least the men-folk forget and get back to their olden ways. And so each year that day (Middle of February, i.e.14th) the womenfolk, if only gingerly and lovingly, as a token gesture, beat up their husbands to commemorate that eventful day, which had contributed substantially to better their lot.
The men folk also submitted to this, in good humor, since they didn't really get beaten up other days of the year. The entire ritual soon became a caring and loving affair, with wives having the satisfaction of beating up their husbands, their husbands cringing in mock fear and pain, and the guys having the supreme joy of submitting to the whims of the women they loved.
This custom continued for many years, even when the British occupied India. As Gujarat fell more and more under the influence of Western Culture and language, some of the more fashionable and educated women, sometimes wearing leather boots and clothes (this even created a fad for leather *Velans* for a short time, but it soon passed, as they could not use them to make chapattis) on that day appeared with a *Velan* in hand, and called out to their husbands *"Velan time"* before starting off.
The British noticed this, and they were quite amused and endeared by the peculiar ritual. They also saw it for what it really was, i.e. amanifestation of love, not of hate. The ritual soon spread to Britain and many other Western countries, specifically, the catch words *"Velan time"* Of course in their foreign mouths, it was bastardized to *"Velan tine"* and then to *"Valentine".* And from that day onwards, 14th of February, since it was indeed that day that 400 years ago an irate *Gujarati Patalani* housewife nearly committed manslaughter, came to be known as Valentine's Day. The custom of hitting with Velans died a natural death as more modern (and lethal) equipment was made available to Gujju Girls with the advent of time and technology, but 14th of Feb still stands as a symbol of undying and universal love.
My views on the 14th of Feb are still unchanged. Given a chance I’d miss the day altogether. I do have a cunning plan that somehow never seems to be put into use.The idea is to leave Florida on the evening of the 13th for Australia. And if the International Date Line works as it’s supposed to, I would have missed the date entirely.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the International Date Line, if crossed correctly, can be the answer to eternal youth.