This year too, Valentine’s Day (henceforth, V-day) was celebrated on-campus on Feb. 14. But this V-day was more holistic than usual. Everyone who celebrated it seemed more spiritualistic and holiness (both terms here meant in the modern sense of the word, and not in the medieval or ancient sense). Every movement of those who celebrated V-day had a holy touch. To me it felt like they were all waiting for V-day like the believers wait for their religious festivals; like the Hindus wait for Dipavali and Holi; Muslims for Eid and Bakra-eid; and Christians for Christmas and Easter.
Like all other educational institutions, the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (my pyari university) also celebrated this day with all its beauty. All the lawns were opened for these celebrators, which brought them full enjoyments of V-day. The main advantage of JMI campus is that no religious hooligans – Hindutva or Islamist — threatened Jamia students on V-Day. They must have thought that Jamia’s administration is itself enough to check all these vulgarities.
But contradictory to expectations, what did the administration do on V-Day? Unlike everyday, they deployed very few commandos (also known as, Proctorial Staff/Security Guards) at major hip-hop places on campus; such as Hygenic Mark, Central Canteen, Youth Café, Engineering Canteen, Arts Faculty Coffee Shop, etc. Those deployed guards enjoyed all the V-Day hungama very much. Interestingly enough, unlike every other day, there was no ID-card checking at the gates that day, which allowed lots of outsiders to wander on campus.
In response to V-Day, a poster was posted on campus walls by the Students Islamic Organization (SIO), which warned those who celebrate V-Day of the Judgment day. As an Islamic group they have done their duty decently – they encourage good things and discourage bad things. Whereas our university authorities responded by quickly tearing off all SIO posters from campus.
While I was standing near the Hygienic Café with my friends that day, I saw one guard remove all the posters that SIO had posted on the walls, and then he went into the Masjid to pray.
There were lots of other posters there that advertised V-Day special parties and special discounts for V-Day. But the guard chose to remove only the ones posted by SIO. What does this behavior by the guards tell us? Does it tell us that no one has the right to say anything against V-Day or does it tell us that no students’ group has the right to post posters on campus?
Regardless of what it tells us, I understood only one thing: the guard was sent by the authorities to tear off only the posters posted by SIO.
SIO’s posters, I’ve seen, attempts to bring creative, as well as good ideas among students in spite of all the limitations. No one in our university has ever seen SIO create a nuisance on campus. Their poster itself, was an indicator of their activities. By this, they were trying bring awareness among students of the irrelevance of celebrating these kinds of days and warning them of judgment day.
Another matter to add into the balance sheet of V-day is our FX Uth café on campus. It must have earned a record income on 14th Feb. It was the major centre for V-day celebrations. This made me realize the importance of the Youth Café on campus. If it weren’t there, all those who celebrated V-day would have had to bunk classes to celebrate it. This facility helped our students to celebrate V-day without having to miss classes.
I would like to tell our administration that the V-day celebration on campus was not at all conducted in an appreciable manner. Sometimes it even crossed the limits. Therefore, it is the administration’s duty to check nasty celebrations in any name.
I know it’s impossible to eradicate hip-hop celebrations completely because the western biased media glorifies it among youths; but the administration can discourage or provide the students with an alternative platform to celebrate in a creative way, such as the University Fest, Cultural Competitions etc.
Also, it is the teaching community’s duty to tell the students about the irrelevance of these kinds of commercial festivities.
I know our honorable Vice Chancellor appreciates cultural activities from students. He demands students to have a culture of peaceful debate and discussion. So let those students, who are interested and working in creative manner, strengthen their activities among students. It will bring an explosion in on-campus creativity.
[Ajmal V is a graduate student in the Department of History. He can be reached via email at: ajmalvarikkodan[at]gmail.com.]
[Views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jamia Journal’s editorial policy.]