Are you planning to celebrate this Valentine’s Day in Goa ?
Then you are certainly won’t be alone. For some reason, Goa seems to be the No. 1 Valentine’s Day destination for Couples.
Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day seems to have an image that is as cliched as can be. Celebrated across the world as a day of love and romance, Valentine’s Day offers Couples the perfect chance to reaffirm their true love for each other. Unfortunately, this chance to tell your partner or wife or husband how much you love him or her seems to be overshadowed by the crass commerce that is generated on this day. From red heart-shaped balloons to cuddly teddy bears, from card shops overflowing with heart shaped cards to splashes of pink across the city, it seems to be that Valentine’s Day is all about shopping. But contrary to public opinion, the concept of Valentine’s Day had very different beginnings.
While doing research on the net for this article, I read that legend has it that in 269 AD, a Roman priest named St.Valentine was martyred for refusing to give up his religion. Before he died, St Valentine left a note for the jailor’s daughter, who had become his friend during his time in prison, signed “From Your Valentine”. Since he died on February 14th, Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February to be Valentine’s day to honour St.Valentine. The romantic connotations to the festival seem to have developed over the centuries, with the image of the angel Cupid and his bow and arrow, overshadowing the original legend of St. Valentine.
What few foreigners and Indians know is that India has been a land of love for many years before Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated in the west. Although the concept of Kama Sutra is a popular one in the west, few people know that India has its own version of Cupid. Kamdev or Kama Deva is the Hindu God of Love. Indeed, I had never heard of Kamadeva before I did research for this article. Depicted with a flowery bow in ancient Hindu myths and mythology, he strikes lovers with his love arrows and thus ensures undying love for generations to come. However, like Kama Sutra, it seems that this mythical figure has been forgotten by Indians themselves, who prefer to look towards the west for romantic inspiration.
In India, most Indian couples celebrate Valentine’s day like their counterparts in the west by exchanging gifts, chocolates and Valentine’s Day cards. Indian metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore are full of roses, cupids, cuddly teddy bears and heart-shaped balloons as shops try to drown out each other in a sea of red and pink. But it seems that this fixation on gifts and Valentine’s Day has spread to smaller cities and it is not surprising to see cities such as Mysore, Pune or other tier 2 cities dowsed in bright pink. Watching a movie on Valentine’s Day seems to be a popular pass time and it is not uncommon to find long lines stretching in front of multiplexes in the metros. Apart from the movies, many couples also make reservations for romantic dinners in some of the city’s finest restaurants or plan romantic holidays to nearby cities for the Valentine’s Day weekend.
Among Indian cities, Goa seems to be the most popular choice for Couples looking for a quick romantic getaway. Goan hotels, restaurants and beaches become choc-a-bloc as Couples from neighbouring states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka headed to Goa via road while couples from cities further away such as Delhi or Kolkata fly down on one of the many low cost airlines. Couples from across India appreciate the laid back, romantic atmosphere that Goa has to offer during the festival of love. Besides, Goa has been thankfully spared from the protests from conservative Hindu groups against Valentine’s Day, that mar the celebration in the rest of the country. Couples are free to hold hands, hug and openly display their love for each other without having to watch their backs for the so called moral-police.
The Goans themselves celebrate Valentine’s Day with an zest and enthusiasm that is typical of their passionate nature as they express their undying love for one another.
The morning dailies in Goa such as the Times of India, Herald or Navhind Times are usually splashed with messages from love struck couples to one another. Like the shops, the newspapers to wear a bright pink look with a number of advertisements looking to capitalise on the Valentine spirit. Love-struck Couples can be seen at many of Goa’s popular beaches walking aimlessly hand-in-hand, just happy to spend time with each other. In the evenings and indeed throughout the day, the local Goan restaurants are filled with couples gazing deeply into each others eyes (as if they were eye specialists! – as a friend once quipped), completely oblivious of everyone and everything around them – the waiters, the menu or the food on the table getting cold.
Over the years, Goa too has become more and more commercialised, with gift shops, card shops and restaurants doing the best business in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Large red hearts and big, cuddly teddy bears greet you at the entrances to most shops and restaurants. Not just shops, even bakeries, music stores, coffee shops, theatres, jewellery, watch shops and malls gleefully sport the Valentine look with lip-smacking offers (pun intended!) in an attempt to entice couples to show their undying love for each other in material terms.
All in all, it looks like this year’s Valentine’s Day in Goa is going to be a hectic one for both shops and couples alike. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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