Every afternoon during the office lunch hours I drive towards different restaurants in the vicinity to try new places and break the monotony I usually develop from eating in the same ones. However I witnessed a different set-up today, the shops I crossed appeared entirely different from regular, and they were beautifully decorated with big red heart shaped balloons, cupids and buntings of Valentine ’s Day and visibly flooded with young girls and boys shopping for their dear ones. The kids on the street who are usually found cleaning the wind screen of the cars were now vendors of bouquets of roses to the commuters.
Cars with tinted glasses were cruising towards sea view, few girls covering their face with the Naqab sitting with their dream prince on the motorbikes leaving for the unknown destiny, perhaps a safer place where they could not be noticeable to their relatives was a common sight.
Even the mall i.e. next to my work place was giving an impression of safe haven for love birds that could freely roam around holding their partner’s hands, sitting close to them in the food court or parks and buy lots of gifts from their parent’s money just to ‘prove’ their love. In short the market created an ambiance pretty favourable for the young love birds who despite little bit of apprehension were managing to spend a good time with their partners, which I found was quite charming.
On the other hand among the somber circles Valentine’s Day remained talk of the town harping on the issue; ‘whether our society really need to celebrate the event or is it even Islamic?’
I although belong to the school of thought which has no concern with the ones who celebrate it passionately or find this day as an opportunity to express love. Nevertheless this year I observed an extraordinary boom in the trend of celebrating Valentine ’s Day, even to an extent of wearing red or pink outfits at work places. The heavy media coverage and peculiar scrolls of personal dedications to the loved ones with desi expressions like Jaan, Jaanu, Muaaah, Jaaneman on every Tv channel and radio made me think about a different genre of culture we are developing.
Although I tried to ditch this thought with the feeling that at least they were not shooting each other or firing on the mosques that claim hundreds of innocent lives on almost daily basis yet I could not convince myself with the scenario I witnessed today. This was not the Pakistan where I have grown up; the much simpler times of the 90’s. Love was indeed present but with the delightful appearance like the one in the songs of vital signs, strings, etc. Contrary to it now there was a phony public display of the feelings dependent on material stuff. This was never a part of Pakistani culture, let alone Islamic.
I am indifferent to the discussion whether celebrating Valentine’s Day is Islamically forbidden but what I disagree of is the very culture of Pakistan which deteriorating to the lowest ebb.
How can we adopt a particular festivity which we dare not celebrate openly? A celebration where we have hunt for places that are not easily accessible to our relatives and parents? On what grounds can we justify rejoicing something which we are actually afraid of, which involves deceiving the morality of our family and culture.
I can certainly not consider this as modernization of the Pakistani society. In plain terms this is westernization of the society (read not modernization). Our way to celebrate love is not defined within the parameters of a particular Day nor is it dependent on it. I reckon that love demands expression but every culture has its own values and demands that must not be diluted in the name of acculturation.