Love in the time of Spring
Celebrating Valentine's day on Pahela Falgun
Does anyone remember taking out that all-time favourite book from the corner of the bookcase and some dried rose petals murmuring on their way down as they kissed the floor? The rose was indeed priceless, given by someone important, and of course, with love.
Love is both calming and 'restless-ing', yet the most cherished feeling. Though it cannot be confined to a single day of expression and is to be cherished every single moment, there is a day dedicated solely to celebrating its sweetness - Valentine's day.
Valentine's Day, also called St. Valentine's Day, is (February 14) when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. Given their similarities, it has been suggested that the day originated in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February.
Valentine's Day was not celebrated as a day of romance until about the 14th century. Now it has become an internationally celebrated cultural component. The digital culture has contributed a lot in making the day a 'must-remember' for almost any nationality, be it Asia or Europe.
For the past few years, the Pahela Falgun has also been celebrated on February 14 in Bangladesh, making the day more colourful and joyous. The King of seasons, Spring now enters Bangladesh on the day of love.
How and when the culture of celebrating Valentine's day infiltrated Bangladesh cannot be accurately answered. But the late '80s could be a possibility when media culture emerged, and access to international news became easier. The people of Bangladesh became interested in adapting foreign concepts. The idea of a day dedicated solely to love must have been enticing and charming as it reads.
"I found out about Valentine's day reading books. It was a rare celebration back in the early '90s in Bangladesh. But I was intrigued by the concept of the day. So, on one 14th February morning, I woke up early and placed some fresh, dewy jasmine next to my beloved wife who was deep asleep. When she woke up, she was absolutely amazed and asked me what the occasion was. I gathered all my confidence and wished her Valentine's Day," shared Md. Farid Hossain, a retired manager from a reputed Bangladeshi bank.
Mr Farid is now 67 years old. He and his wife would celebrate every Valentine's day together on a rickshaw ride at the heart of Dhaka. They would go to TSC at the University of Dhaka and spend the day together.
"Both I and my wife were students here (University of Dhaka). We made it into a small ritual of ours that we wouldn't miss any year. After 20 years since the first Valentine's day with her, she completed her chapter with me on a February morning and didn't wake up for another bunch of jasmines. I still try to come here (TSC) every Valentine's day to relive our memories together," said Mr Farid.
The stereotypical norms of a day for romantic love are now getting demolished. The merge of Pahela Falgun - the beginning of Spring - has made this more vibrant. Families and friend groups get together all around the country in colourful hues and celebrate the day with flower bands in head and hand.
The day is a festival of flowers in many ways. There are only a few people without some floral accessories or fresh flowers. This is the day of bumper sales for flower vendors. As the demand goes up, the prices also skyrocket. A regular 20 Tk red rose goes up to Tk 100 per piece.
But the gestures of love are not only limited to romantic partners. People buy flowers for their friends and family as well. Rose, Gerbera, Carnation, Daisies, Nightday Queen, Jasmine, Marigold, Tuberose, Lilies - flowers speak of the love that sometimes the lips cannot utter, expressing mildly the subtle note of love that transcends boundaries.
A new trend for Valentine's is giving something to loved ones. There is an exchange of gifts, cards, or other creative ideas and gestures. From handing a bouquet with a little note to a handmade card - gifts bear the love from hearts. This is the best day to invest in the little things that aren't so little.
But there is a tendency for underage boys and girls to bunk classes that is questionable. Also, the social conditions of Bangladesh hardly make it a place for couples of any age. Social harassment and extremist judgemental behaviour continue to be a negative side many people have to go through on this day.
However, Spring begins here on the day dedicated to the celebration of love. This embodies the beginning of new hopes, refreshing the same journey with a sweetness of appreciating your partners, family and friends. Love, for any relationship, is essential. Love is how the world stays alive.
The heartbroken may feel despair from the theme of the day. But the cassette playing the tunes of someone or something long lost reminds them of the love they once felt. The grief that came with the heartbreak only testifies that the love was real. So, Valentine's day has something for all indeed.
The whole concept is westernised and far from our inherent culture. But it has marked its place in the heart of Bangladesh. So, this Valentine's, may the sweetness of love transpire into rose petals, and the scenes of love that resides in every heart get a chance to be on lips.