February is a short sweet month. It is a time when the cold winters have just receded. A month which is not yet hot. A transitory month. A month of spring in some parts of the world. A month where trees, plants and over all nature bloom forth with life after the cold, when they were in hibernation.
This is the month, when nature begins to bloom. In recent times, this month is much awaited for, for the celebration of Lovers’ Day, Valentine’s Day on February 14th.
Why is this day alone celebrated as Lovers’ Day? And what is its connection with Saint Valentine?
There are at least 3 Saint Valentines in the early part of the first millennium. These three different Saints were all known by the name Valentine or Valentines.
Emperor Claudius of Rome thought that single men made better soldiers than married men with wives and families.
So he outlawed marriages for young men. Saint Valentine defied the decree of Emperor Claudius and got young lovers married, in secret. When this act of Valentine was discovered, he was put to death. This probably could be the reason for linking Saint Valentine to young lovers.
St.Valentine getting a couple married – A painting
In all the old cultures of the world, including India, this transitory month between winter and summer, February and March, was earlier celebrated as the Vasantha Utsav month. The Vasantha season was considered fit not only for humans to fall in love this month and marry, even the divinities thought this month fit to marry in. Thus Rama married Sita, Shiva married Parvathi, and in South India, Kartikeya married Devasena during this period.
It is a season of celestial marriages when nature is more pleasant and conducive for endearing thoughts and deeds. It is in this month that Krishna played with the Gopika.
Krishna playing Holi with Gopika – a painting
The Vasantha Utsav, the month long celebration culminates in the Holi festival, festival of colours, festival of joy when people come together, forgive each other, bond with each other, forgetting the mistakes of the past.
Colours of Holi
In Punjab it is celebrated as Basant Panchami, also has “Hola Mohalla” festival.
Mustard Fields in Spring
In Rajasthan as “Gajh Shingaar”, “Jamboo Holi” and in Bengal as “Nabanna Utsav”. In Goa it is celebrated as “Shigmotsav”.
In down south, in Tamil Nadu, from time immemorial, it has been celebrated as “Indira Vizha” or the festival of Indra, for the whole month.
In Tamil Nadu, one of the descendents of the Maratha King, Chatrapati Shivaji, a king by the name Sarfoji Maharaja of Tanjavur, used to visit the Manmada temple, the temple of Cupid, with his wife everyday of this month and encouraged young lovers to visit the riverside and enjoy the beauty which nature has to offer.
What comes forth to us from this, is that, much in contrast with a single evening, spent in pubs or night club parties or hotel dinners, it is not February 14th alone that is the Lovers’ Day, as celebrated in the limited sense now, but it is a ageless tradition of a whole month of celebration of the beauty that nature has to offer us.
A beauty to be enjoyed in the company of our loved ones, adhering to the norms of a civilised society, in a civilized manner. It is a time for re-establishing the sense of harmony between loved ones and with nature.