Today is Valentine's Day and celebrations are fast becoming displays of how much you can afford to show off in the name of love.
Today is Valentine’s Day and celebrations are fast becoming displays of how much you can afford to show off in the name of love. And of course, it goes without saying that whatever you celebrate has to be shared on Facebook too so that people know you have a ”happening” life.
For most Indians, life revolves around family members and perhaps, an extended network of close friends. This is why the parent in me winces at this glamorous packaging of displaying love through fancy gifts and dinners, all of which make great Facebook photos but does not necessarily translate into happy relationships. Yet the way things are moving, it seems like it is mandatory to celebrate Valentine’s Day or at least pretend to. Those who refuse to join in are labeled as duds.
A question one can’t help asking – Why doesn’t this new narrative of Valentine’s Day celebrations give everyone enough space to exercise their free will?
Back in the 80s, Valentine’s Day was something that was confined to the West and not easily accepted in India. Those were the years when the word ”love” wasn’t even heard of in living rooms of most Indian homes except when the idiot box was switched on and kissing couples on screen were carefully shielded by blooming roses looming large to stop anyone from seeing what really happens when lips lock.
Now there is a sea-change in how Valentine’s Day is celebrated. Everywhere, you can find Valentine’s Day cards, celebrations and props to invite young people to join in and celebrate their love. The whole experience is packaged and made so visually enticing but ultimately, this is all about getting you to spend more money. That love and the experience of it is restricted to these socially mandatory displays on a certain day of the year only – that sounds like being taken for a ride altogether.
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The idea of showing off love and how much you can afford to pamper your sweetheart is now being smartly marketed as the value that you attribute to a relationship. Valentines’s Day celebrations are made fancier by visually enticing formats – romantic candle light dinners, fancy boxes of expensive chocolate and bouquets of red roses and so on. But, how genuine are these celebrations and why is it supported by such a flourishing industry?
A new survey in the US where the National Retail Federation had polled over six thousand consumers and it tosses up some interesting facts such as – 54% of Americans are likely to spend about $133.91 on gifts, dinner and so on and that men plan to spend twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day gifts. The total spending will be around $17 billion!
A survey by the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker came up with higher numbers – according to them, an average American spends around $213 on loved ones and overall spending will reach around $37 billion.
I am a regular Indian mom and while I have big dreams, I don’t have millions or even thousands to spend on Valentine’s Day. Assuming that I win a lottery and I do have that kind of money to spend on Valentine’s Day, I would still save the money for my kid’s higher education or invest in something that brings higher returns for my family in the coming years.
The power of love triumphs over everything else and it does not need false displays that are restricted to a single day of the year. I believe that our kids should learn what to truly value in life – genuine relationships – yes – but not at the cost of showing to friends how much they can afford!
What comes to us in the name of Valentine’s Day is smart marketing – nothing else. In fact, according to data released by the Australian Competiton and Consumer Commission, more than $25 million was stolen by romance scammers last year and they received 4100 complaints related to online romance scams in 2016. Unfortunately in India, we don’ t have a regulatory romance watchdog to cite similar data yet.
So step aside VHP and Bajrang Dal, Valentine’s Day will kill itself. It isn’t about love anymore.