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The best way to celebrate Valentine’s day is to remember the love of God. According to Bible, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth...and above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”. It is a time of giving. Valentine reminds us of the gift of God to mankind and true love of God in our hearts, that we have to also love in the way, the God loves. Valentine’s day (or Saint Valentine’s day) is one such day, celebrated on 14th February to mark the spirit of unconditional love universally – this day technically signifies the accomplishments of St. Valentine, a third century Roman saint. Cupid is often portrayed on the cards of Valentine’s day, as a naked cherub launching arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers – the Roman God Cupid has his roots in Greek mythology as the Greek God of love. Valentine’s day is celebrated in many countries on a large scale. In the 5 th century, Pope Gelasius announced 14th February as St. Valentine’s day. However, the association of love with this day happened after quite some time. During the middle ages, it was believed in England and France that 14th February was the beginning of the mating season for birds - this may be how this day got associated with love. Valentine’s day is considered more as a commercial holiday rather than a cultural or religious day. According to a survey, the total spending on Valentine’s day exceeds 18 billion dollar in US alone and around 1 billion in Britain. People buy flowers, cakes, greeting cards 2 etc. for their loved ones, almost 30 to 40 percent of the population spends money on eating out and about 50 percent of men and women have expectations of receiving gifts, flowers etc from the significant others. History of Valentine’s day and its modernization : How wonderful and full of love the word ‘Valentine’ sounds. The history of St. Valentine, on whose account this day is celebrated throughout the world, is still a mystery. Thus, Valentine’s day (also called St. Valentine’s day) is celebrated as a token of respect and feast to St. Valentine to show love, affection and care. There are two popular legendary accounts on this fact : i) The first one believes that St. Valentine was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome. The then Roman emperor Claudius II banned the marrying of young men, so that they could fully concentrate and dedicate themselves for the service of the empire. St. Valentine realized this injustice and continued to marry the young couple secretly, besides assisting Christian movement in a time when they were persecuted. The angry king, realizing this, captured priest St. Valentine and ordered him a death sentence. ii) The other story says that Valentine was a prisoner, who fell in love to the daughter of the jailor and signed a letter for her by “From your Valentine”. He was also believed to help the Christian prisoners, who were often tortured mercilessly by Romans. He was then martyred for these allegations. Although the real Valentines is still murky and unknown, all these legendary stories portray him as a fighter and believer for love, all heroic and Romantic – the reason why Valentine’s day is associated with expressing love. Traditionally, it was celebrated as an honour to martyred saint Valentine who died on 14th February in 496 AD, but in 3 modern concept, Valentine’s day is an annual festival celebrated all across the globes (specially by Western countries like USA). The concept regarding the celebration of Valentine’s day is also shrouded with mystery. Some believe that it was celebrated to commemorate the martyred Saint Valentine while others believe that it was Christian churches who decided to honour Saint Valentine in middle of February, to Christianise the pagan festival – Lupercalia. Lupercalia is celebrated at the end of February, a festival of Roman culture, associated with fertility and to honour Faunus (the Roman god of agriculture). Traditionally, during the celebration of this day, men and women were paired for the rest of the year, based on the jar game and they were believed to get married at the end. Spiritual Impact and Perspective : The mysterious history of Valentine’s day indicates that this day is associated with Christianity; although it has no particular religious or spiritual meaning as per Christianity as well. In Hinduism, all the festivals have deep spiritual meaning for example – during the festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmashtami, Guru Purnima, Navaratri etc the divine principle of that respective deity reaches the surface of the earth which benefits all human beings. As compared to it, various days like Valentine’s day, Father’s day, Mother’s day have neither any spiritual context nor their respective principle reaches Earth on those respective days. Therefore, human beings do not obtain any spiritual benefit on the day of Valentine’s day. Actually, love is not something that one just fall into, as a romance novels and hit songs suggest; rather love is a spiritual practice. According to Hinduism, ‘Dharma’ (righteous conduct), ‘Artha’ (acquisition of wealth by honest means), ‘Kama’ (activity rendering 4 physical and mental happiness) and ‘Moksha’ (final liberation) are four pursuits of life (‘Purushastras’). Artha and Kama should be in accordance with Dharma, that is one should acquire wealth (Artha) and fulfill desires as per Dharma. Thus, in this period, leading up to Valentine’s day, merchants increase prices of items such as gifts, chocholates, flowers etc. to increase the profit even more. Unfortunately some people indulge in sex due to influence of this day – this is not in accordance with Dharma. Therefore, instead of obtaining the spiritual benefits one may incur spiritual loss because of not adhering Dharma. “A person should look for love within, not just outside./As long as you don’t find love within,/ You cannot find love out there, never, never.” - (Baba Muktanandaji) - For some people Valentine’s day is a day to show special love to their beloveds and for the rest it might be a day to consider getting in touch with spiritual selves. It can also be a day to honour the divine – gods, goddesses, spirits and so on. One can also create magic by getting in touch with the centre of heart – that is spent time by oneself and engage in self-love while honouring the wonderful universe. In addition, Valentine’s day can be a good opportunity to focus on spiritual love – first within oneself and then expanding to the world around. Some of the ideas are – i) To embark on a regular meditation practice, ii) To set intentions for the day, iii) To take a walk on the lap of mother nature, iv) This day can be used as a springboard for developing a new relationship, iv) Random acts of kindness are to be performed, v) Any homeless shelter can be volunteered, vi) Letter can be written to any special person, vii) Indulgence must be given for selfcare or nurturing, vii) Love poetry (by Pablo Neruda, Hafiz etc.) can be read and poems can also be written for the universe, viii) Seniors at any assisted living facility can be visited, ix) Altar of items with love 5 vibrations (i.e. hearts, roses, crystals, raspberries, strawberries, saldalwood, candles etc.) can be created and many in more ways too. Overall on this day, one should try to focus on one’s own happiness and what makes our heart sing, which will also result in making the hearts of others to sing. One should try to visit to happy places to soak up the energy, so that one can carry it with oneself in the days to come. Psychological outlook : People express their love towards their girl-friend, boyfriend or spouse on Valentine’s day. By doing so, one may feel that expressing love on this single day of a year is enough and take the relationship for granted otherwise – this can result in the possible downfall of the relationship. In Hinduism, ‘Priti’ (love without any expectations) is considered a divine quality of God; this is also superior to love as love has certain expectations. In the earlier times, Hindus were taught about how to develop divine qualities like priti, expansiveness, sacrifice etc. People imbibed these qualities as they grew up due to which people already had love for others, and there was no need to allocate one specific day for expressing love. Here question may arise that if one does not express their love on Valentine’s day, does it cause any harm? Does it mean that the opportunity to express love has been lost? Many Hindus celebrate Valentine’s day to fit in to the Western culture. But the effect sometimes become negative. Actually Valentine’s day is not only to express love for any special friend or confidante or spouse – it is the special day to express love for our every loved ones (even those who belong to our family or friends). Considering the ill-effects of an increase in ‘Raja-tama’ components, Hindu celebrations are meant for deriving spiritual benefits by increasing ‘sattva’ component. Celebration of Valentine’s day aid in increasing the ‘Raja-tama’ 6 components, thus reducing the ‘Sattva’ component. Thus, if the mindset for this particular day is only for celebrations, then it is to be celebrated not only with worldly happiness, but also by a means to survive divine bliss. Valentine’s day can be considered as a day to take a pledge of being a better human being and appreciate the efforts and existence of those who are always there for us. The day is dedicated to love, respect and affection. This day can be a way to learn and inculcate empathy, charity, kindness, love and respect for others. This day can also be best for kids to embrace and acknowledge the love of friends and family. Just like different filters that can be applied to Valentine’s day year after year, one’s life is constantly in motion, changing themes every year. Life should be tailored so that creative process matched the natural flow of life force. *************************************************

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