Nepali Times
Valentine na salentine



How times have changed. More obviously, it's about the new generation pushing out from the cracks of the conservative hide of old Nepal: how these boys and girls hang out together and do god knows what together in private and not-so-private settings in and around town; how the very nature of relationships, including those sealed with Vedic mantras in front of the sacrificial fire and banged in by the clamour of a big brass band, has shifted in sync with western models and Nepali realities; and how Valentine's Day has become big business here in much the same way Dasain, Christmas and the various New Years have become.

Of course the times keep on a-changing, and to reminisce over the days when holding hands in public was impossible, or how friendly teasing could induce a couple who'd never actually spoken to fall in love is futile, and indicative of one's own incapacity or unwillingness to move with the times.

But it is that time of the year again, like it or not. Whether you see the new ways as a perversion of Nepali culture or an opportunity to enhance (or create) your own love life, Valentine's Day is here and ignore it you cannot. Embrace it publicly (and your special friend) and you'll be in equally romantic company in bars and restaurants across town. Celebrate it privately, and you're compelled to admit you're trying to be more romantic than usual simply because everyone else is doing so. Deride it publicly, and you'll be making a big deal out of something you proclaim is just the opposite. Stay at home alone, and you'll either be wishing you had someone to spend the evening with or if you do have someone, wondering why the two of you have cynically arranged to spend the evening apart, out of spite. You just can't win.

It would perhaps be easier if, as in the days of yore, Valentine's Day was simply a high school charade. Everyone is now expected to be part of this Hallmark Holiday and may be found wanting if he or she does not join in. The media has joined in wholeheartedly in demanding you declare your love to someone, anyone, and the climax of the wedding season a week in advance has only added fuel to the fire. Everyone is in on the conspiracy?- the heavens, the economy, and all your friends. Even grandmothers have been heard complaining? about their recalcitrant grandsons: 'He doesn't come to see me anymore because I told him to get married. Hoina, others go and do love-sove. He doesn't even do that, does he want to be a jogi?'

It's a jungle out there. Perhaps those of us who can't bring themselves to drift glaze-eyed through the couples reciting couplets along the lines of roses are red violets are blue sugar is sweet and so are you? should pack their bags and head into the hills this weekend to celebrate a love more divine, that of the twelfth century Bhakti poet Mahadeviyakka for Shiva:

I love the Handsome One
he has no death
decay nor form
no place or side
no end or birthmarks.
I love him O mother. Listen.

I love the Beautiful One
with no bond nor fear
no clan no land
no landmarks
for his beauty.

So my lord, white as jasmine,
is my? husband.

Take these husbands who die,
decay, and feed
them to your kitchen fires!

(translated from Kannada by A.K.Ramanujan)

Uncommon love? - FROM ISSUE #489 (12 FEB 2010 - 18 FEB 2010)

1. AtiJanneSunne
I could not agree with you more. There is no escaping from V-day, regardless of whether you like it or not. Even if you are indifferent, it does not leave you alone, it is right there, on your face.

2. loner
its Shivaratri as well, Why arent you talking about that.. Is it because its too ethic and not so glamourous??

3. rudhra
This comment has been removed by the moderator.

4. not alone
@ loner 
hence the poem no? 

5. kuhire
Khai k khai k..

6. Nabina
Rabi, mate, this is what you are getting at home right?
"He doesn't come to see me anymore because I told him to get married. Hoina, others go and do love-sove. He doesn't even do that, does he want to be a jogi" ...!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)