Bangladesh: Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

So what to do on Valentine’s Day? Spare a thought for someone; find time to pray that we will continue to understand the importance of happy, peaceful family units to the overall welfare of our society and our world

by Anwar A. Khan

“As we watch the sun goes down,
I want to let you know;
my love for you is forever,
I’ll never let you go…. “ -Jenny R. Tajalle

( February 14, 2018, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) February 14 is celebrated as the Valentine’s Day throughout the world. People in Bangladesh have adopted the traditions of Westerners on celebrating Valentine’s Day, such as exchanging gifts like flowers, chocolates, ties and watches and so on, making a special date to or have a romantic dinner. Thomas Merton has aptly said, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another”. If we have only one smile in us, give it to the people we love. Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” Mass blind date events, hold in different places, are on the rise in Bangladesh. They draw crowds of several thousands of people, who flock to connect with other singles in search of a spouse.

On this day, the world celebrates the memory of St Valentine, that day in which Bangladesh’s people show the world their bent to accept foreign ideas without reservation and surpass the initiator of such ideas in the execution of same. We have to take our hat offs to people when commemoration allows for frolicking. That is why, on every Valentine’s Day, something happens that makes the previous year’s celebration insignificant. We expect a peacefully celebration of the event. This year, it may be a more colourful celebration at least from what I have witnessed of St Valentines days in the past one decade. By now, the air has been filled with promotions of programmes targeted at ensuring that men and women have their fill of revelries and are modestly safe at savouring their indulgences.

I could not resist taking a quick reverie back to my days in the university; I came back with no memory of any elaborate celebration of St Valentine’s Day. But things changed progressively. Youths began to get more daring and adventurous towards St Valentine’s Day, they organised activities and gained sponsorships from corporates. To catch the attention of the youth, more and more brands struggle to key in to the Valentine opportunity year in, year out. This is a season that you cannot but notice. Then of course married people began to join the train. Many a man would have more than a usual dose of love on this day, they would treat young, sophisticated girls outside of their homes to some niceties after which those with conscience would go back home and reward the wife with the remnants. Some would get back home and join the wife in condemning those who spend so much time, energy and money on St Valentine’s Day, pretending like nothing happened earlier on in the day. Some will not even come home at all! It is a day in which people become so many things, some throw morality to the winds; some become momentary hypocrites while some really celebrate love.

I am in envy of couples who go all the way on this day. I have friends who take romantic trips to exotic destinations all over the world, just to be away from the heartbreak that our country has become lately. I know people who make elaborate plans within the country. I no longer have the grace to invest so much energy, resources and time on every February 14. Not after the experience I once had when I tried to follow the fad. After about 5 years back, I thought I should go to have a dinner somewhere not too far from us in celebration of the day. My goodness! I got the shock of my life. Vehicular and human traffic to the destination I chose was incredible. I got there at last, only to be turned back because I made no prior bookings. It was the same situation in another venue nearby. That evening ended up being a very tortuous one for me as I encountered the same horrible traffic gridlock on my way home. I got back home from a journey of no accomplishment several hours after I set out totally exasperated. Then, I reached an accord to wit: save myself from this stress in subsequent years and make every waking day Valentine- a celebration of love, in my home.

I also agreed not to wait until February 14 to show love to other people. Anyone who came my way would get a taste of the Almighty’s goodness to us in whatever bit we could afford. I still reckon that the stress and inconvenience that attend the celebration of Valentine’s Day summarily defies the import of the day. But how many people even bother to find out how the day came about? We are only just taken away by the opportunity to merry and in some instances, we should also shower our love to the loved ones.

Valentine’s Day is in memory of a Priest who worked against the decision of the Roman Empire to outlaw marriages among soldiers. This was because Emperor Claudius II, who was fighting many wars, wanted a strong army, but a lot of his men did not want to be soldiers. The Emperor assumed that men refused to join his raids and conquests because they wanted to stay at home to be with their wives and children so he decided to cancel and outlaw all marriages! He reasoned that if men were stopped from getting married, there would be neither woman nor child to distract them from the all-important duty of fighting for the state. But this Priest felt it was important that men got married. He thought that this would save them from the temptation of living with women without being legally married, a sinful act by his faith. So, he decided to do what he thought was right. He would gather people who were interested in getting married in a secret place, far away from prying soldiers and join them in matrimony. For a while, it was a jolly good ride for him and his accomplices but the day of reckoning came fast. He was soon caught in the act! When Roman soldiers discovered his illegal activities, he was arrested and brought before Emperor Claudius.

The priest made a good impression on the Emperor who thought he was a well-spoken and wise young man. Rather than harm the priest, the big man wanted him to have a rethink about his faith. He encouraged him to stop being a Christian and become a loyal Roman citizen, who would conform to the laws of the land. But the priest swore that he would never deny his belief refusing all entreaties from the Emperor. He even dared to sell his Christian faith to the almighty Emperor! The audacity infuriated Claudius and he ordered that the priest be sent to prison until he could be executed. Some accounts claim that while he was in prison, the priest performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer, Asterius. The jailer’s daughter and his 44-member household were said to have been converted and baptised into Christianity. Before his execution, the priest was also said to have written letters to his close friends coveting their prayers and signing these letter by writing “Remember your Valentine.” This good priest was believed to have been executed on the 14th or the 24th of February in the year 269 A.D or 270 A.D. Some two centuries later, around 498 A.D, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as a church sanctioned holiday in honour of a man who was martyred for the protection of the sanctity of holy matrimony. It is an irony that this is the same institution that we go the extra effort to put in jeopardy while commemorating the priest’s memory!

So what to do on Valentine’s Day? Spare a thought for someone; find time to pray that we will continue to understand the importance of happy, peaceful family units to the overall welfare of our society and our world; make those with whom God has blessed you happy and say a prayer that every soul in need finds someone to love. That is the real spirit of lovers’ day, it is the thing that our world gravely needs.

Valentine’s being about love, I always celebrate it every day. Valentine’s Day just reminds me of the love that I owe my partner. It reminds me of the true love that I have shared with my close friends. To me it is a symbol of love, a reminder to keep the flame of love burning.

Robert Fulghum said well, “We are all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love- true love.” Because love connects us; gives us hope; humbles us; makes us whole. Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Away from that, Valentine’s Day is celebrated every February 14. It is generally a festival of romantic love where people go out of their way to give gifts of endearment like cards, letters and flowers to their partner or simply anyone they love. Beyond our cynicism we think it can also be a really fun day to celebrate love and romance in our lives no matter our relationship status or location in the world. It is a day to remind humanity of love, which we may describe as “a very basic human value needed to maintain peace and harmony.” “Valentine’s Day is something good for the lovers. We think that love is something that should be celebrated every day. We don’t have to wait for February 14 to show that we love and care, we may argue. But love is something that should be demonstrated in our everyday words and actions. We don’t believe in making Valentine’s such a big deal because in the world of love, every day is, or at least should be special.

Valentine’s being about love, I always celebrate it every day. Valentine’s Day just reminds me of the love that I owe my partner. It reminds me of the true love that I have shared with my close friends. To me it is a symbol of love, a reminder to keep the flame of love burning. Still, the beauty queen believes in the idea. “I believe that it can be a memory for two people who love each other. I believe that it is part of life.” Make our loved ones feel loved. Valentine’s Day is all about expressing our love for someone. We should give our partners our undivided attention, and go the extra mile to prove there is no one you would rather share this day with. Celebrate our love and relationship. Reflect on your relationship; relive the laughs, the romance and all the other little things that have made it so special. A photo scrapbook or slideshow, as well as mementos from dates are a great way to show nostalgia and sentimentality for our partners.

Express how much our friendship means. Something as simple as a text wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day or a Facebook post with heart enosis is a nice way to show that we may not share romantic love, but it is still love all the same. Treat yourself. You love yourself (hopefully) so why not treat yourself to the same kind of love and affection you are giving to others. Buy something for yourself or take an hour for some “me” time. You deserve it. As said by Henry Van Dyke : “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” Celebrate love in general. Love is universal, so celebrate this natural, all-encompassing human emotion. Celebrate your accomplishments, party with your friends or surround yourself with family. Love comes in all forms beyond just romance. Allow yourself to feel it in some way. Be the best you can be for your loved ones. It’s the one day of the year where everyone should take an extra minute and acknowledge the loved ones that you value, whoever they may be. It truly is the little things, and you will end up making someone’s day by expressing your love for them.

Valentine hearts beat more passionately than everyday hearts. Love is the magician that pulls man out of his own hat. It is well said you know when you have found your princess because you not only have a smile on your face but in your heart as well. We are most alive when we are in love. “Love is the greatest refreshment in life” has aptly said by Pablo Picasso. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts. Love may be understood as a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species. We should say in the words Claudia Adrienne Grandi : “If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.”

Valentine’s Day is the Holiday of Romance. Romance is love in its active state, ignited and inspired. Valentine’s Day may feel like a holiday forced on us by the Greeting Card, Jewelry and Floral industries, but the truth is that we have accepted it because we recognise and value its purpose. Love that never inspires romance is stagnant and stale. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to ignite our existing relationship with romance, and love with an added dose of romance will result in a stronger, longer lasting and far more satisfying relationship. We agree with the words of George Moore: “The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.” To conclude, we wish to read out from the poem of Harry Boslem:

You are my heart, my hope, my help,
The passion that is me,
The whole of which I am a part,
My peace, my ecstasy.
You are my future, present, past,
My ship, my sail, my ocean,
The wind that brings me home again,
The home for every motion.
You live within me, yet I am
Without you all alone.
With you I am full of light,
Without you I am stone.
I think of life as something I
Can spend with only you.

-The End-

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

Sri Lanka Guardian has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 2007. We are independent and non-profit.

Leave a Reply