Valentine’s Day – myth or reality?

SONGSOPTOK: Valentine’s Day has become one of the major festivals these days, comparable to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Id, Rosh Hashanah or Chanukah and observed by men and women irrespective of religion. Do you agree? How important is it in the country you live in??

ANTORA:  Very important I can say. It’s a day to celebrate love (only one kind of love between two persons that we mean by “Love”, the hearts - roses -chocolate love, the hugs and kisses love and the Annie Geeds Quotes Love)– so its good if not great.

SONGSOPTOK: There are several different views about the history and origin of Valentine’s Day. Which is the version you know about?

ANTORA: I really don’t know about any versions honestly. Till I was in my teens, I didn’t know something like this even exists and then the world changed. We encountered Globalization with open market policies. Archies started selling hearts and cards and teddies and suddenly roses became expensive. It was then we came to know about this day. That’s all. And who cares for history – love is eternal.

SONGSOPTOK: Why do you think Valentine’s Day has become so important all over the world irrespective of the political, social and religious dimensions? Do you think that the anxiety and stress related to modern day relationships have contributed to its growing popularity all over the world?

ANTORA: I don’t think there are such grave reasons. It’s just another day like “world aids day” or “world tobacco day”. A specific day to call “world love day”. With growing threats and stresses of human lives (which are fundamentally same irrespective of religions and regions), we need a reason to celebrate, to feel special, to make it marked and witness with our loved ones .It’s like that page of the novel which we keep turning on , or a line of a song that we keep humming , or like a scene in the movie that we want to play every time in our mind – something different , something exciting , something where pleasure is involved and something which we believe eternal (even for a day).

SONGSOPTOK: Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? In what way? If you don’t, will you please explain why not?

ANTORA: Yes of course. I love to celebrate “days”.  I mark different days and keep celebrating.  The day I first met my boyfriend, the day I got my first job, the day my son appeared for his first ever interview (school), - there are many and I keep celebrating my way. Coming back to V-day, I celebrated with my then boyfriend with hearts-flowers-chocolates, dining out, watching movie, walking hand-in-hand, promising that we would never ever fight – did everything that people do. Did it with love and pride.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you feel obliged to do something special for your spouse/partner on Valentine’s Day or it is similar to and as natural as celebrating birthdays and anniversaries? In other words, is there any peer pressure to conform to the traditions associated with the modern version of Valentine’s Day?

ANTORA: I just need a day to celebrate. Love to shop for the day, feel excited to keep thinking what should I wear with which shoes. Spend hours in packing the gift and write a note. It has always been extremely loud and overwhelming for me. Even today when I am nearly 40 years old, I love to go out on the day with my friend–but the choices are more subtle now. I don’t jump for a heart-shaped balloon but I love to get chocolates for sure.

SONGSOPTOK: According to you what, if anything, is special about Valentine’s Day? Does it play an important role in romantic relationships? Why? Is it important for you to surprise your partner on Valentine’s Day? What would be your preferred way?

ANTORA: Each day plays an important role in a romantic relationship. The problem is we have nowadays changed the definition of being romantic. The social networking killed it all – the world ends inside the small square gadget. Its very much necessary to keep the “surprise” element alive in any relation and for couples, it’s a must. Else everything falls flat and drab. V-day creates and opportunity to make it large and different than any ordinary day. It triggers an alarm to the romantics like –ting-tong, tomorrow is the day when you have to be nice and smiling, she’s waiting for a present and more than anything she wants some good time. On the other hand its like keeping aside all not-so-good stuffs and looking forward a happy time. The effort takes care of the rest. It’s good to get a reminder each year , on a day to create a surprise. From a burnt cake to a ring in the champagne – everything is worth rejoicing.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you buy gifts on Valentine’s Day? What type of gifts do you normally buy? Do you think it is important to follow the norm and go for the traditional gifts like flowers, chocolates, cards, perfumes etc.? Please share your motivations or lack of them with us?

ANTORA: IThe d gifts for V-day, nothing expensive or jazzy. Something simple , something that defines you. Cards were a must those days, bought many cards and gifted them with a hand written letter (with unforced spelling mistakes). Used to spray perfume on the letter so that it smells good. The gifts varied from pen, books, candles, cosmetics, CDs , Cassettes, notebook, deo sprays and coffee-mugs. I personally like traditional stuffs.

SONGSOPTOK: Marketing Gurus often dub Hallmark as the official sponsor of Valentine’s Day in the USA. Do you have any equivalent in your own country? Do big consumer good companies carry out an aggressive promotion campaign for Valentine’s Day? What are their preferred channels? Do social media play an important role in this respect in your country of residence?

ANTORA: “Archies” in my time.  They were competitors of Hallmark in my country. Since Facebook was born, they took care of everything.

SONGSOPTOK: What are the popular customs related to Valentine’s Day in the country you live in? What do you think about them? Do you think that men and women actually enjoy and look forward to 14th February or is it just a matter of keeping up with the Jones’??

ANTORA: In my country people actually enjoy. There are limited scopes of celebrating love here, youngsters are always threatened with “morality” and “social norms” when it comes to celebrate a very natural /normal /human emotion. V-day makes it special for them officially. The first date, first holding hands, first kiss, first movie together, first gift from the saved pocket money, first appreciation, first promise – V-day witness many of these every year. Yes there are heartbreaks and tears and fights and ugliness – but that also becomes special courtesy this date.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that there is actually a social stigma for single, unattached people who do not celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you think that the Valentine Day extravaganza may have a negative impact on their psyche, moral and ultimately their well-beings? What is your own experiences? Would you please share it with us?

ANTORA: In the beginning I mentioned that we are very obsessed with only one kind of “love” in V-day. Although there are no rules unless one choose to bind him/her to “that” type of love. One can celebrate even with his pet for all he cares in V-day . Who is there to stop? These days I celebrate with my son and my friend, we enjoy the most. It depends completely on the individual and their preferences. I know many people who shop for their grandparents on V-day and there are some who break tea-cups. And there are many things in heaven and earth to create negative impact on the moral and well-beings . V-Day would the last in the list .

ANTORA KAR:I am a single mother with a beautiful nine year old son, living a good life with my aging mother and brother. In a matter of 3 years, my husband and my father made a non-returning trip to heaven. I am blessed with a terrific family with extraordinary cousins, uncles and aunts. I have fantastic friends who take good care of me and my family. And I still celebrate Valentine ’s Day with my Valentine.
We sincerely thank you for your time and hope to have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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